The Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College will not pursue further debate around revoking its charter of 5C InterVarsity, ASCMC President Sami Malas CM '19 announced in an all-campus email Thursday night.
The club, abbreviated 5CIV, is the Claremont chapter of the national organization InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA (IVCF), an evangelical ministry operating on college campuses which seeks to “establish and advance at colleges and universities witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord,” according to its website.
The vote was being considered in response to concern that the organization was or may begin to discriminate against LBGTQIA+ students. Malas wrote that the presence of a nondiscrimination clause in the organization's constitution was sufficient.
“All organizations registered through the colleges must have a nondiscrimination clause in their constitution,” he wrote. “5CIV’s governing documents contains this required clause, which is why it continues to exist as an on-campus organization.”
ASCMC’s decision comes after months of tense discussion centering around the limits of the student government’s powers over 5C student organizations and the overlap of religious freedom and nondiscrimination policies.
Last year, TIME magazine reported that IVCF, which employs 1,300 staffers nationwide, announced that starting Nov. 11, 2016, it would expect all employees whose beliefs do not align with its Biblical doctrines – including its stance against gay marriage and opinion that non-heterosexual relationships are a sin – to “leave employment,” according to a statement on its website at the time.
Members of the college LGBTQIA+ community were upset by the news. Several colleges in other parts of the country decided to no longer recognize IVCF’s chapters on their campuses. IVCF refused to sign a nondiscrimination clause, which college administrations thought could lead to discrimination against LGBTQIA+ students, according to The Atlantic.
In April 2017, ASCMC began discussing whether or not 5CIV’s affiliation with IVCF was necessary. One member said that “disaffiliating with IVCF would strengthen the Christian community in Claremont,” according to the CMC Forum.
The Forum also reported that, on the other hand, CMC Class of 2018 President Daniel Ludlam CM '18 said sending Claremont students to InterVarsity conferences could help bring more inclusive ideas to light, and called the club a “warm and welcoming space for queer people of faith, [which stands] in defiance of IV’s explicitly discriminatory stance.”
In May, the ASCMC Executive Board announced its budget proposal. President Sami Malas ’19 said they had “reached a general consensus that because of homophobic policies in the national organization, the Board does not feel comfortable funding 5CIV,” according to the CMC Forum.
At an Executive Board meeting on Oct. 8, the Board “voted on a motion to request 5C InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to disaffiliate with the administration,” according to another Forum article.
“[Board members] are concerned with the school being associated with a homophobic organization,” the report continued.
The motion failed to pass, but the Board later found that there was an issue with voting (which it did not specify), so “the previous vote was void.” They planned to hold a recast.
The issue reappeared at an ASCMC meeting on Oct. 10. Senate members again brought up the subject of revoking 5CIV’s charter.
Several representatives from 5CIV attended the meeting. Representative Michaiah Young CMC ‘18, who was also present at the Executive Board meeting in May, said 5CIV does not support its parent organization’s views on LGBTQIA+ rights. She said the club “would not be as successful as it has been in terms of connections and networking if it were not partnered with the national organization.”
A CMC Advocates representative spoke up at the meeting, calling the 5CIV representatives “cowards” for its decision to not disaffiliate from IVCF.
The discussion was tabled until ASCMC President Malas’ email Thursday night.
Tonight’s announcement was made after consultation with Nyree Gray, CMC assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion, and Devon MacIver, the college’s assistant dean of students for student activities and orientation, Malas wrote.