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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ohio State University: Where Student Clubs Can Kick Gay People Out?

By Michael A. Jones -

Can official student organizations at Ohio State University tell gay people to take a hike, while still receiving money from student activity fees? Yup, they sure can, under a rule at the University that allows certain religious groups to discriminate against LGBT people or non-believers.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, there are about 20 groups on campus who fall into this category, denying LGBT people and atheists the chance to participate in their club.
The issue here isn't that religious groups on campus believe homosexuality and atheism are icky. Religious organizations should have the capacity to develop their own set of rules, beliefs, regulations and norms. The problem comes in that Ohio State University rewards these organizations with funds from student activity fees -- fees that all students pay, including the LGBT ones and the non-believing ones.
That means that LGBT students and non-believing students at Ohio State University actually contribute to organizations that openly discriminate against them. Sound fair?
Nope. That's why student government leaders at Ohio State University want to change the school's policy, and let campus groups know that if they want to be official and receive funding from student activity fees, they better be prepared to open their memberships up to every student on campus.'s Education editor, Carol Scott, wrote about this story yesterday, and noted that each student at Ohio State pays a student activity fee of $25. Collectively, these fees are dispersed to student groups around campus, giving them some seed money to operate on a yearly basis. But for many students at Ohio State, they're tired of their $25 fee going to groups that discriminate.
"It's the general feeling among most students that Ohio State should not tolerate discrimination of any kind," said Micah Kamrass, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, according to the Dispatch.
Yet by allowing groups a loophole to collect student money, yet still treat LGBT people or non-believers as outcasts, Ohio State University is essentially tolerating discrimination.
The issue here mirrors very closely a U.S. Supreme Court case that was heard last year, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, where the Court ruled that the University of California Hastings College of Law could enact a policy that said, essentially: if groups want to be officially recognized on campus and receive student activity funds, they have to adhere to a nondiscrimination policy inclusive of religion, sexual orientation, gender, race and more.
Now if that works for UC Hastings, shouldn't it work for Ohio State University, too?
The University's Council on Student Affairs voted last week to adopt this policy, and they're now sending that recommendation to Ohio State's Student Life office, and urging the administration at the University to require all "official" groups to adhere to a nondiscrimination policy inclusive of LGBT people and non-believers. You can help support their efforts by telling Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life at Ohio State, that the school should follow in the footsteps of UC Hastings, and make sure that "official" student groups getting student activity funds are open to all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or religious affiliation.

petition text -
End The Practice Of Banning Gay and Non-Christian Students From OSU Groups


I'm writing you today to tell you that I stand with OSU's Council on Student Affairs, which voted last week to recommend changes to OSU's student-organization registration guidelines.

As you're aware, religious groups at OSU can currently deny membership, and/or leadership roles, to students who do not share their "sincerely held religious beliefs." These beliefs can extend to sexual orientation as well, shutting out potential student group members for the sole reason that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Not only does this practice create false divisions between students, it also erodes the messages of tolerance, investigation and exploration that The Ohio State University passes on to students.

All students should be able to join OSU student groups, especially if those groups are receiving funds from the $25-per-quarter activity fee that every student pays. Discriminating against students based on their religious beliefs, and/or their sexual orientation, weakens your great institution.

Thank you.

[Your name here] 


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