In case you haven’t heard, Monday’s Senate meeting is sparking some controversy among the student body. I’m here to quell some of that while also giving you my take.
A group of student activists appeared before the Senate during the “Open Forum” section of the meeting, demanding that we review 55 student organizations in violation of Article V, Section 2 of the Students’ Association (SA) Constitution.
In essence, the SA Constitution prohibits discrimination based on a variety of factors, notably, in this conversation, gender identity and gender expression.
For transparency’s sake, the groups specifically mentioned by the activists that will be looked at or are rumored to be in violation can be found here as well as the direct quote from the SA Constitution found here.
Their concerns are valid. Their concerns are heard. Their concerns have been acted upon, and Senate will be conducting further investigation on the issue and on the severity of the issues in question.
The Senate responded with the only possible course of action: “MOTION TO assemble a group of Senators with consent of the Speaker to create a statement of support for club inclusivity in our organizations, and to review the constitutions of the 55 student groups mentioned in the concern, and convene a meeting with FSA with the students who came with the concerns.”
This passing motion is the best and only possible way the Students’ Association Government could have appropriately responded to these claims. To further this, I would like to make some points that factored into my decision to vote with the majority.
Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (FSA), not Students’ Association Government, is the administrative bureau in charge of fraternities and sororities. So 40 of the 55 groups in question are not necessarily under any legislative committee’s jurisdiction.
While Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council, and Multicultural Greek Council have access to resources—such as the CCC page and mailboxes in Wilson Commons—to my knowledge they do not receive any further SA support for their many vast and impressive contributions to our campus. For further clarification and concern-airing (again), the students will receive a meeting organized with FSA.
The 15 other organizations specifically mentioned are officially recognized and fall under the jurisdiction of the Students’ Association. Each one of their constitutions are mandated to include the following anti-discriminatory policy, which verbatim is Article V Section 2 of the SA Constitution. In this case, I’ll use the YellowJackets’, as they were one of the groups specifically mentioned: “The University of Rochester YellowJackets does not discriminate against any individual or organization of individuals on the basis of age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or political affiliation.”
While the student activists raise extremely valid arguments with precedent, there is nothing more that we as the Senate can do besides what we voted to do Monday night—support them as best we can.
Regardless of my own personal biases and affiliation with an organization in question, I find that the Senate acted in a just and well-mannered way to address these students’ concerns, and I look forward to more students bringing their concerns to the Senate table.
Last, but not least: The contributions and incredible people that belong to the 55 organizations in question are immeasurable. The heart and soul of our campus are found in those involved in Greek life, club sports, and our beloved a cappella groups.
I want to assure you that if there is any assault on these groups that is completely unreasonable and unsubstantiated, I will not tolerate it.
These organizations are our lifeblood.
We become ever better with them, and without them, we would be doing an absolute disservice to the student body of today and tomorrow. Without our Greek, athletic, and musical organizations, our beloved home by the Genesee would fall cold and dark, even colder and darker than it is on a January evening at 1 a.m..
If any unsanctioned and aggressive action is taken on any of these organizations, I will defend them and support them to the fullest of my ability.