IVCF co-president responds to club's re-recognition

The Spectrum

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Co-President Nicholas D'Angelo spoke with The Spectrum regarding the club's re-recognition after it was de-recognized for pressuring a homosexual officer to leave its executive board.

D'Angelo emphasized IVCF welcomes all types of students to be members. He also said he isn't aware of the 1957 contract Senate Chair Darwinson Valdez brought up in his response to the Student-Wide Judiciary's ruling.

Its leaders, however, must behave in ways consistent with the teachings of the Bible in order to lead the club's religious activities, including worshipping, praying and mentoring younger Christians, according to D'Angelo.

"I can't imagine us turning anyone away who was genuinely interested in participating in the community in a gracious, respectful way," D'Angelo said in an email. "We're a Christian group and a big part of following Christ is actively engaging our community in a loving and intentional way, especially by engaging and including people who may disagree with Christian beliefs."

Students of various beliefs, races, ages, lifestyles, orientations and backgrounds attend the IVCF group meetings, according to D'Angelo.

D'Angelo said IVCF's constitution

differentiates between members and officers in that anyone who attends half of the semester's meetings can be a member, but officers must affirm its doctrinal basis and commit to living in ways consistent with the Bible's teaching.

The SWJ ruled in favor of IVCF because of the distinction between membership and leadership. Since the club does not discriminate against members, SWJ restored it as an official club.

D'Angelo said IVCF restricts officers much like a sports team requires captains to be excellent at related behaviors and skills, an advocacy group wants leaders to have passion for its cause or a political group wants leaders who are of that party.

"For UB to enjoy a truly diverse campus, we need to embrace our distinctives and differences - even when we might find those to be objectionable," D'Angelo said. "Principled pluralism and tolerance means that I can say, 'I disagree with your position/beliefs/behavior, but I can speak and act respectfully to you and still learn from you.'"

IVCF is grateful the justices of SWJ understood why student groups need to be led by people who can embrace the beliefs and purposes of the group, according to D'Angelo.

"They looked at the US Constitution, federal and state law, and took a common-sense approach to the problem," he said.

In April, the Student Association (SA) Senate determined the IVCF constitution violated UB and SA anti-discrimination policies because it requires officers to sign a faith-based agreement to endorse Christian beliefs. Since Jackson was not endorsing the absolute truth of the Bible, IVCF argued that he could still be a member, just not an officer.

Although SWJ restored its due rights as an SA club, IVCF will not receive funding until after the 2012-13 academic year, as SA has already set its appropriations - unless the IVCF submits a budget proposal and it is approved by the Senate.

"We intend to work closely with the SA treasurer, executive board and Senate to see what funding avenues are available to us for the 2012-2013 academic year, including the possibility of submitting a full 2012-2013 budget proposal," D'Angelo said.

D'Angelo said IVCF's members are committed to being participants on a truly diverse campus, which means there must be groups at UB with goals and purposes that differ.

"That's what diversity and inclusion means: welcoming all people and groups, even those with whom we disagree," D'Angelo said. "IVCF's message and beliefs may be different from those held by some people on campus, however, we're asking to be welcomed as members in the university community in the same way we welcome people of different races, political and lifestyle orientations, beliefs, etc."

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