The University of Notre Dame recognized a “gay-straight alliance” student group last academic year, but it has now denied recognition to a student organization created to uphold the Church's position on marriage, according to the Sycamore Trust, an alumni organization committed to strengthening the University’s Catholic identity.
Notre Dame’s Office of Student Affairs has reportedly rejected the application of the student organization Students for Child Oriented Policy (SCOP). Without approval, the group is unable to receive funding, use University space, or sponsor events.
The Trust called the rejection “startling and deeply disappointing.”
The Cardinal Newman Society reported last month that a group of undergraduate and graduate students at Notre Dame formed a group seeking to refocus the national debate on marriage back to children.They organized a conference on marriage and created a petition asking the University’s administration to take a “strong stand in support of the true definition of marriage.”
In reponse to SCOP’s activity, the Trust reported, some Notre Dame students created a counter-petition titled “Students Against SCOP: A Petition Against University Recognition of Students for Child Oriented Policy,” claiming that SCOP “discriminates against all non-traditional family structures in a way that is in direct opposition of the university policy on diversity inclusion and message of love and acceptance.”
Many members and officers of Notre Dame’s group PrismND signed the petition.
The letter of denial to SCOP from the Club Coordination Council, a branch of the student government, reportedly recommended against approving the application for recognition, stating that there is “not a need” for SCOP as its stated mission “closely mirrored” the mission of other existing student organizations. However, the Trust pointed out that the letter fails to identify those other student organizations.
Notre Dame student Michael Bradley, who was instrumental in forming SCOP, reportedly told the Trust, "no club exists that does what we do."
The Trust said they believe a double standard is in place and point out that Fr. Jenkins created PrismND last year, despite the existence of other organizations such as the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) and the Core Council.
“It seems redundancy disqualifies only when students seek to advance the Church's position against the gay rights agenda,” states the Trust. “The administration's lamentable action is striking evidence of a major fault line in the school's Catholic identity.”
SCOP President Tiernan Kane reportedly said, "This will not stop us!"
The Trust noted in conclusion that Fr. Jenkins has the authority to overrule the student government’s decision. “Father Jenkins, after all, has plenary authority,” states the Trust. “Accordingly, he also has full responsibility.”
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