The Student Association at The State University of New York-Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) has delayed making a decision on whether a Christian club’s constitution violates school policy.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship remains suspended as the SA Senate, which met Sunday, has decided to give more time to its investigative committee. The committee now expects to present a decision next semester at the SA Senate's first meeting.
Jim Lundgren, director of Collegiate Ministries for InterVarsity, told The Christian Post that the organization sent the university a letter last Wednesday saying, “We believe on several counts [the university] acted against [its] own rules, and a sense of fairness in dealing with this.”
So far the university hasn’t responded, and Lundgren said InterVarsity will likely send another letter and will also look at its options once a ruling is made after the winter break.
InterVarsity’s chapter at SUNY Buffalo was suspended on Dec. 2 over allegations that it violated legal and university statutes. The controversy began when former InterVarsity Treasurer and sophomore Steven Jackson, an openly gay student, resigned from his leadership position in the club because of his views on homosexuality. He still attends club meetings as a member.
Jackson said the club pressured him to resign because he was no longer in agreement with the faith-based statement InterVarsity requires its leaders to sign. .
Lundgren told CP that Jackson “has been very clear in saying he wasn’t forced off. He does say he was pressured but he doesn’t agree with the charges against them.” The InterVarsity director has also stressed that the organization does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. In Jackson’s case, however, “he decided to pursue a sexually active homosexual relationship” and InterVarsity doesn’t affirm a sexually active relationship outside of marriage
“Our options are quite a ways away from filing a lawsuit at this point,” Lundgren said. But InterVarsity will continue to escalate their rhetoric to the university.
“We feel this is something [where] SG has acted preemptively in a way they shouldn’t, and [they are] making a complaint for a student not complaining.”
Sunday’s meeting gave senators relevant information from the investigation regarding the club’s actions and also offered recommendations for dealing with the suspension.
InterVarsity was allowed to make a plea to the Senate on behalf of the club, but the Senate refused to lift the suspension until after the break. Until then, InterVarsity cannot hold official meetings, use the money in its budget, or hold club events.
The campus paper, The Spectrum, reports, “Much of the Senate's discussion regarding IVCF took place in a closed-to-the-public executive session, which lasted for over an hour while reporters, InterVarsity members, and other students waited in the hallway.”
The Spectrum reports that an unnamed SA senator told them that the Senate is leaving the decision to lift the suspension to the SA's executive board, which suspended InterVarsity in the first place. They also said the board is not expected to lift the suspension because they don’t want to set a precedent in the future for clubs facing possible disciplinary action to evade a suspension.
For now, it’s a waiting game. Lundgren said he spoke with SUNY Buffalo InterVarsity members via email this week and asked how things were going. They told him that after the initial shock and panic, the suspension has actually drawn them together and reaffirmed their commitment to live biblically. He said for the SUNY Buffalo chapter, “Morale is pretty high right now.”