Bias Not OK

Higher Education: Universities are correct in denying funding to student organizations with discriminatory membership policies.

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ASUC spring budgeting means one thing: we'll be hearing the complaints of numerous student organizations saying they were treated unfairly in the process. But Berkeley students are not alone in this-complaints over fair treatment of student organizations is a national issue.

The United States Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments from lawyers representing the Christian Legal Society (CLS) and UC Hastings School of Law. CLS is suing the law school, demanding that it be granted official recognition, which carries with it benefits including funding and office space. The law school has denied the group official sanction because school officials hold that the group's membership policy violates the campus non-discrimination code.

The policy at question demands that members of the club sign a statement of faith and excludes individuals who engage in unrepentant homosexual conduct. CLS argues that freedom of association requires that organizations be allowed to set their own membership standards.

CLS misses the point. It has freedom of association-Hastings continues to allow the group to meet on university premises and to use public bulletin boards to recruit members, despite its discriminatory policy. The school is merely exercising its right to deny funding to a group that discriminates on the basis of religious belief and sexual orientation, and is correct in doing so.

The society's lawyer and some commentators argue that the logical conclusion of the policy is that individuals would be able to join a group whose basic beliefs they oppose and thus subvert the organization's mission. We believe that this is an extreme conclusion that is unlikely to transpire, based on our experience of the way student organizations work.

The Supreme Court's decision may affect the way student groups are funded here at UC Berkeley. Currently, the school and the ASUC have a similar non-discrimination policy that would be threatened if the Court sides with CLS. It would be most unfortunate to see student fee dollars going to organizations that discriminate against fellow students. We hope that the Supreme Court rules for the cause of non-discrimination.






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