Duke University's Student Government Rejects Christian Organization, Citing LGBT Policy


Duke University’s Student Government Senate rejected a Young Life chapter’s request to be recognized as an official student group on campus due to the Christian organization’s leadership policy, which the senate claims discriminates against LGBT students.

Young Life is a Christian organization that seeks to serve and support students on school campuses across the world.

Even though a chapter of the Christian organization already serves the Duke University campus, the group currently meets off-campus in nearby Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

If the request to be recognized as an official student group had been approved by DSG Senate, the Young Life group would have been able to meet on campus and serve even more students.

The movement was first presented to the student government on Sept. 4, according to The Duke Chronicle, but some senators raised concerns over the organization’s leadership policy, which bans LGBT students from serving as leaders and volunteers.

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“With regard to the delicate matter of homosexual lifestyle and practice, in the light of the biblical data regarding creation, Young Life believes such activities to be clearly not in accord with God’s creation purposes,” the organization’s statement of faith says, according to NBC News.

While the leadership policy clarifies that the organization does not discriminate against individuals “who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God’s grace,” the policy also makes it clear that the organization does not allow those individuals to serve as leaders and volunteers.

The North Carolina university requires that new student groups comply with the school’s non-discrimination statement, which says that Duke “does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”

On Sept. 4, DSG senators said Young Life’s leadership policy did not comport with the university’s non-discrimination statement and tabled the proposed motion to allow the organization to allow representatives from Duke Young Life to speak until Sept. 11.

Do you believe Young Life should amend its policies to comply with Duke's non-discrimination policy?

One week later Senator Tommy Hessel, a junior, suggested that the Duke chapter amend its rules, but Young Life member Jeff Bennett argued they could not break from the national policies, according to the school newspaper.

Another Young Life member, Rachel Baber, argued that even though the leadership policy doesn’t allow LGBT students to serve in leadership and volunteer positions, the organization does not discriminate against LGBT students from joining the club.

Sophomore Senator Jackson Kennedy continued to oppose the organization’s recognition on campus, however. In the Sept. 4 meeting, Kennedy said, “They don’t have a non-discrimination clause in their constitution; they have a discrimination clause.”

Ultimately the senate unanimously voted against officially recognizing the group on campus, which means the group will continue to meet off-campus.

Young Life’s vice president of communications, Terry Swenson, told NBC News the organization would be willing to work with the Duke chapter to help them get recognized on campus.

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“We understand the student senate’s decision and appreciate their consideration,” Swenson said.

“If the Duke students involved with Young Life decide to re-apply, we will work with them to create an application that complies with the university’s expectations.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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