By Erin Keating
A follow-up SGA meeting for Intervarsity was held on April 7, at noon in Massengill Auditorium. Parties who were unhappy with SGA’s recent decision to cut funding for Intervarsity due to discrimination based on sexual orientation had a chance to argue SGA’s verdict.
Intervarsity presented opposition to the new bill, arguing they were maintaining mainline Christian theology and need to uphold that in order to fulfill their traditions and values as a Christian organization. They counter-argued that SGA was discriminating against them for not allowing them to fulfill their own religious beliefs. They further argued that because Intervarsity allows LGBTQ members to hold leadership positions, they do not discriminate, and because the student in question signed a contract to hold his leadership position, he knew what the expectations were. The committee addressed Intervarsity’s claims saying that, heterosexual students are allowed to be in non-sexual relationships whereas homosexual students are not, and that the contract only prohibits the participation in “sexually immoral behavior” but does not directly mention homosexuality. The comments of the president of Intervarsity confirm that the organization classified the homosexual relationship as “sexually immoral” regardless of whether the participants in that relationship are sexually involved.
As for Intervarsity’s argument that SGA was being discriminatory towards them for their religious beliefs, SGA replied that their job is to uphold Roanoke College policy and would have handled the situation the same way had they been approached with this problem in another club. The official SGA Executive Commission on Discrimination Statement reads, “The commission does not believe that the religious affiliation of a group enables that group to ignore college policy.”
This meeting served as an interlude between the first meeting in which the bill to cut Intervarsity’s budget was presented and the final meeting during which SGA will discuss further amendments to the bill. SGA wants to use the experience from this committee to work on refining Roanoke’s policy towards discrimination to make sure that the legal language is clarified so that cases like this are easier to deal with. They have taken into consideration the arguments presented by Intervarsity and already have several suggestions underway for how the group can reach a compromise that should allow religious groups on campus to be able to maintain their beliefs without breaking Roanoke’s discrimination policy. These amendments will be presented at the next meeting in order to improve the bill.