Backing Away from the Brink: Marquette Will Not Suspend the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
It was an obvious outrage: two administrators in Marquette’s Office of Student Affairs (Ian Jamieson and Erin Lazzar) ruled that the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship would be suspended on the campus for a year because they dismissed an officer of the organization who “came out” as homosexual, said he was involved in a homosexual affair which he would continue, and rejected Christian teaching about homosexuality.
The decision was appealed to Dean of Students Stephanie Quade who just this morning (Friday, August 5) reversed the ruling and lifted the suspension.
The group will be on probation for a year for violating a narrow clause of their constitution specifying the procedures for dismissing an officer. The organization will also have to submit to a review of their constitution. It is unclear, at the moment, what changes (if any) might be required in that document.
It appears, however, that Marquette has conceded the right of a campus Christian organization to hold officers to Christian standards of sexual conduct.
The Intervarsity Christian Fellowship mobilized a campaign among alumni to write Marquette in support of the organization. Quade acknowledged receiving a large number of e-mails, but maintained that they had no role in her decision to reverse the suspension.
Still an Outrage
In spite of this about face on the part of Student Affairs, it is still an outrage that a Christian student organization should be threatened with suspension for merely insisting that officers in the organization must maintain Christian standards of conduct.
Not only did two Student Affairs bureaucrats rule against the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a staffer with the Campus Ministry (Steve Blaha) according to a source close to the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship encouraged the gay student to make the complaint.
Neither Ian Jamieson nor Erin Lazzar nor Steve Blaha would comment on the situation. Jamieson e-mailed the Marquette Warrior stating that:
I have no comment to provide. I understand you’ve been in contact with Dr. Stephanie Quade who would be the best person to address specific questions about conduct cases or hearing processes.Quade provided only a terse and evasive statement, as follows:
As you know, there was a student conduct case involving IVCF and an initial finding that was amended upon appeal. The group was found responsible for violating published policies and action was taken.This, of course, entirely evades the fact that the result of the first adjudication was that the organization was guilty of discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” and given a stiff punishment (a years suspension).
This action dealt with adherence to university policies and procedures governing student organizations, in this case the need to follow the procedures set forth in the organization’s constitution.
We responded to Quade asking her to confirm that the initial decision (by Erin Lazzar and Ian Jamieson) involved a charge of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. She has not responded.
Erin Lazzar failed to respond to a voice mail request for an interview, and Blaha declined to comment on the grounds of student confidentiality.
Marquette did issue an official statement on the issue. Kate Venne provided us with a copy:
Marquette University has placed the campus chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on probation for one year. The probation results from a finding that the chapter violated its own policies and procedures in dealing with a complaint.This evasive and disingenuous statement stresses the one procedural infraction of which the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship was guilty (lack of due process in bouncing the sexually active gay officer) and entirely evades the fact that the original finding was discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But the blather about “allegations of discrimination” and “inclusive environment” is an implicit admission that this is exactly what happened.
This failure and the lack of clear communication regarding why action was taken caused significant personal hurt and resulted in allegations of discrimination.
No student conduct decision is final until the time in which to file an appeal has passed or an appeal is filed and decided. All students and student organizations have a right to appeal in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Student Conduct Code.
Marquette expects all student organizations to adhere to the university’s Statement on Human Dignity which “recognizes and cherishes the dignity of each individual regardless of age, culture, faith, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, disability or social class.” We want all students to be successful both academically and personally, and we are working with various groups on campus to ensure an inclusive and supportive institutional environment of all students, faculty and staff.
Marquette, in other words, acted like the politically correct institution it has become, siding with a sexually-active gay student who somehow thought he had a right to be an officer in the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and in effect revoking the right of Christian student organizations to insist on Christian standards of conduct from their officers.
Pressure, including a letter writing campaign among the Intervarsity’s alumni and the outing of the action by radio host Mark Belling caused the university to back off. Now, of course, they won’t honestly admit a blunder.