The Associated Students of California Lutheran University, an ELCA-related college in Thousand Oaks, California, will be asked to vote to remove "to further Christian growth" from the student body's constitution according to reports at the Christian Post, the local Ventura County Star, and the CLU student newspaper the Echo. The proposed amendment, adopted Monday by the ASCLU Senate by a 14-4 vote, would replace this purpose clause with "inspire the maturity of faith and reason in an environment of Lutheran tradition." The amendment will be brought to the university's undergraduate students, where two-thirds of those voting must approve the amendment for it to take effect.
Evan Sandlin, a Junior class representative in the ASCLU Senate, sponsored the proposed amendment. "I think it doesn't accurately reflect what our university is," Sandlin is quoted in the Echo. "I think we are a place founded on the Lutheran tradition and Christian tradition, but we are also a place of diversity and mutual understanding and this new wording will help our constitution better reflect that." The Star reports that Senator Sandlin "believes in God but has asked that his faith not be identified."
The proposal was first introduced to the Senate at its February 7 meeting, where the minutes report this initial discussion:
(The Star and Post both report that ASCLU President Evan Clark is an atheist.)
Evan Sandlin: Basically I saw in the Constitution it is not recognizing the diversity we have on campus. Favoring one religious faith over the rest. During involvement fair I have 4 or 5 written statements I could bring up on email all saying they would approve of this Constitution change. They think it is discriminatory. This new change would make us like our mission statement which says to “further discussion of faith and reason” it recognizes the different faiths on campus and it is not our job to favor one over the rest. Robyn: Did you ask any religious clubs? Evan: I’m not attacking Christianity at all, so I did go around to LOL for a comment, the people who were at the table at the time were shaking their heads but didn’t want to give a formal statement without talking to the rest of the club. I also talked to young republicans and young democrats and they expressed interest as well. Jaclyn: I see what you’re trying to do and for me personally we are a Lutheran University and people that are coming here recognize that we are a Christian Institution and I don’t see how that is discriminatory towards anyone. We aren’t saying you have to be Christian and we have never discriminated as far as I’m aware, and I am uncomfortable with trying to make us go away from that in a sense. It makes me uncomfortable people come here knowing they are coming to a Christian University. Evan: We are also Lutheran. Would we support changing preamble to Lutheran? How exclusive are you going to get? Recognizing that we have a lot of different faiths/beliefs on campus. I’m saying ASCLU is to further Christian growth on student population. To me that is exclusive and inappropriate. Jeremy: Can you pull up the school’s mission statement? Daniel: Reads mission statement. Rebecca: Instead of amending it to read I really like that it incorporates Christian identity, could we discuss a new phrase to keep Christianity as our middle name but incorporate faith and reason? Jaclyn: I would be more open to that. Grant: We could do “further faith, reason and Christian growth.” Monique: I do agree with Jaclyn, because upon enrolling I realized that I was coming to a religious school and I think everyone else knows that so there should be no reason to completely remove it. Evan C: As a non Christian I didn’t come here to further Christian faith. I find it difficult, it’s the further statement that we have many things that keep us secular and I think our ASCLU I would enjoy being secular.
The bill was finally approved at the February 28 Senate meeting, after an hour debate among the Senators and students in the audience. Over the next few weeks several of the ASCLU Senators (four members representing each of the four classes, plus one representative each of transfer and commuter students) will hold forums to discuss the proposed amendment.
Jeremy: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mentioning Christianity in the proper context but to further Christian growth sounds like the mission statement for Campus Ministries or something like that. We are rooted in a Christian Tradition, not promoting Christianity. Maryalice: I don’t know what Senate or PB do to further Christian growth, so I don’t see why it is necessary. Sally: We are looking at other things that may need to change in the constitution so it may be worth your while to continue this discussion past today. As the person who makes this all happen, if we could send one revision or one vote…don’t feel obligated to make a decision tonight. Daniel: There are strong opinions, we are limited on time. I recommend not deciding tonight, my opinion is to table the bill or shoot it down knowing it will come back later. Grant: I move to table senate bill number 64 so that we can further think about this and have a chance for other constitutional amendments to be brought up. Jaclyn: I second. Jesse Mcclain: This is the perfect time to talk to fellow students, so you know if you’re voting on personal beliefs or for fellow students. Bill: As you think about wording, I’m glad you’re having the conversation as you think about the University’s mission statement you can take a look at wall outside of student affairs when we created that mission and we had some good conversations about what language to use because we wanted to promote whatever faith and moving forward with integrity where they are. We chose language like "to grow in spirituality, integrity, and leadership." Want to promote growth in their faith. Good conversation. Daniel: All in favor of tabling bill? 16‐0‐0.
Though first, the Star reports that another member of the student government (Jesse Knutson, who currently serves on the Programs Board, a senior and a Lutheran who lost the election for ASCLU President to Clark) has asked for a "judicial review" of the proposed amendment and is seeking to remove both Sandlin and Clark from office.
Currently, the Preamble of the ASCLU Constitution reads:
We, the Associated Students of California Lutheran University, in order to provide for student organization, to encourage academic and social development, to provide a forum for student expression, and to further Christian growth, do establish this constitution.The amended verson would read:
We, the Associated Students of California Lutheran University, in order to provide for student organization, to encourage academic and social development, to provide a forum for student expression, and to further discussion of both faith and reason, do establish this constitution.Where do we find this stuff? Google News. Shrimp out.