The future of SA-affiliated club sports, a cappella, and Greek groups is uncertain after the All-Campus Judicial Council ruled Friday that they may not use gendered language in their constitutions, advertisements, and names, and that they may not participate in gender-exclusive competitions.
The ruling stemmed from an April 21 appeal by several students that alleged Greek organizations, a cappella groups, and club sports teams discriminate by gender and therefore violate the SA Constitution.
The Students’ Association (SA) Senate and its Administration and Review Committee had argued that Greek groups are not SA-affiliated and not required to abide by the clause.
But ACJC, SA Government’s high court, rejected this claim, writing that if a group benefits from SA resources, it is SA affiliated. Greek groups do not receive direct funding from SA but do use SA-funded resources, like the Campus Community Connection website and room reservation subsidies.
“To say that groups are ‘covered’ by the SA Constitution is to say that insofar as they continue receiving material benefits from the SA, they need to operate in accord with the Non-Discrimination Clause,” ACJC wrote in its decision. “If they fail to do so, they are not entitled to receive SA assistance.”
That clause says that neither SA nor “any affiliated organization” may discriminate based on age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, nationality, race, religion, sex, sexuality, veteran status, or political affiliation.
ACJC ruled that gendered language, whether in promotional materials or a group’s name, “amounts to textual discrimination and is not allowed under the SA Constitution.”
“Even if an organization’s practices are not discriminatory based on gender, presence of gendered language in a constitution amounts to de facto discrimination in that it promotes a chilling effect on the number of students seeking membership,” wrote ACJC.
The decision may be felt most acutely by club sports teams. If it wants to continue receiving SA funds, Men’s Rugby, for example, will not be able to call itself such. And it may also not be able to play in its current league, which is run by a national body that separates teams male and female.
“A group which purports to not discriminate—and, in practice, allows people of any gender identity to try out for and practice with it—still harms its members by participating in events that exclude them,” ACJC’s decision reads.
In its charge, ACJC wrote that Senate’s appropriations and administrative review committees must review the constitutions of all SA-affiliated groups for compliance with the non-discrimination clause, and that groups in violation “must be brought into compliance to remain SA-affiliated and to continue benefiting from SA resources.”
The appeal came nearly three months after its plaintiffs—senior Stephen Wegman, junior Andie Burkey, sophomore Artemis Markakis, and freshman Tamas Nadasi—alleged at a Senate meeting that 55 groups were violating the SA Constitution and asked the Senate to review and sanction them. Without action, they had warned, they planned to go to ACJC.
Former Speaker of the Senate Lindsay Wrobel, who is now a senator, Senator Beatriz Gil, Administration and Review Chair Alex Guerrero, and Senior Analyst Paul Jaquish represented the respondents.