By Mikayla Silcox
Elm Staff Writer
The Student Government Association (SGA)’s Senate meeting on Oct. 25 caused quite a stir on campus.
Washington College’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a support system for athletes to practice their faith, has met outside the campus and is looking for official SGA recognition, as one of the previous leader’s did not finalize the club’s initial Student Interest Group application.
Almost weekly, clubs are promoted from S.I.G. to Club B status, meaning they are able to gain SGA funding, with the approval of the Senate.
Typically, clubs are passed to Club B status without any obstruction, so when a Senator questioned the club’s statement of faith at the Oct. 18 Senate meeting, the two representatives of the club were unaware of this issue.
The FCA’s statement of faith is a document that club leaders have to sign. The document states, “God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman.”
This statement caused enough concern and turmoil that the Senate voted to address the status of the FCA the following week, so that the club could regroup and discuss this possible Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) violation.
At the Oct. 25 meeting, the FCA brought sophomores Cole McGee and Brooklyn Pugner, as well as a representative from the national FCA organization to answer senators’ questions in order for a decision to be made.
After the discrepancy of the previous meeting, the WC chapter of FCA altered their constitution to align with WC’s diversity statement.
According to the constitution, “FCA will not belittle or discriminate against religion, gender, age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, etc.”
Despite the constitutional change, the ultimate guidelines stated that LGBTQ+ people would not be permitted to become leaders in the organization, creating mixed feelings amongst Senators about the club’s equality logistics.
After debate, the Senate voted 23 in favor and 19 against the approval of the FCA to Club B status. While the approval may seem finalized, there are still concerns about this decision.
“It’s very rare in Senate to see something that’s not practically unanimous one way. I think if nineteen people are saying no to something there’s probably a reason, and a good one at that,” senator junior Megan Somers said.
Although the club was approved, it left an uneasy resonance throughout the Senate.
Many students who questioned the homophobia from club leaders were left without answers.
“During the debate, members of the Senate body stood up and expressed that as queer students, they did not feel comfortable and safe with the approval of the FCA. I also felt this way, but because of my position, I do not have the ability to speak during Senate debate. It felt like a slap in the face for students to stand up and express their discomfort and feelings of being unsafe, and to still have the Senate approve the club,” senior Maegan White said, speaking not from the stance of the SGA’s parliamentarian or staff writer for the Elm, but as a LGBTQ+ student, hurt like many others, by the outcome of the senate’s decision.
While freedom of religion aligns with WC’s DEI statement, the clause and discrimination in the club’s statement of faith counteracts this.
McGee, on behalf of the club, dispelled the idea of redacting parts of the statement of faith to be inclusive of everyone or the idea of creating a club outside of the Fellowship, where the statement would be unnecessary.
However, a few Senators had personal insight into belonging to the FCA in high school, and they shed light on the inclusivity of the club.
“My experience of the club was that it cultivated a welcoming and nurturing environment. Never did leaders speak of sexuality, and particularly nothing related to homophobic content or material. Thus, my experience is juxtaposed to any accusations that arose recently surrounding fears of espousing homophobic beliefs,” senator sophomore Noah Gentry said.
While Gentry acknowledged the problematic clause in the statement of faith, he prompts people to gauge the FCA at WC specifically, and to see if it truly bypasses the campus’ equality regulations.
Senator freshman Brandon Edgerly, who also had a positive experience partaking in the FCA at his high school, believes that the statement of faith is only what the title implies: a statement of being a Christian.
“There is one aspect of it where it makes a small violation of the WC DEI statement, which is that people who want to assume leadership positions in the club are required to sign the statement of faith and believe everything within it, and to that I would say that is more indicative of what it means to be Christian rather than a deliberate attempt to exclude people,” Edgerly said.
These perspectives help alleviate the idea that the FCA would promote harm to any LGBTQ+ member on campus, yet there is still no solution toward the inability for LGBTQ+ students to have any leadership roles.
While the FCA states that they are supportive of all members, students in a position of power in the club sign on discriminatory beliefs, which understandbly would make LGBTQ+ members fearful and inclined to not join.
Deborah Hamilton responded on behalf of the national FCA in liaison with McGee and Pugner, where she strongfasted the ideals of the FCA and their promotion of helping athletes through Christ.
“No one is ever required to join FCA clubs or camps, of course, but the doors are always open to anyone who wants to hear about the love of Christ,” Hamilton said.
While the club itself may not cultivate an environment of homophobia, the win of the club’s promotion was a loss toward LGBTQ+ members on campus, who are actively barred from leadership in the FCA.
Everyone has a right to their faith and beliefs, but when it treads on physical inability for LGBTQ+ members to advance their roles as leaders, it is discriminatory.