The fate of student group Love Saxa’s funding and status as a university-recognized club remains uncertain after a meeting of the Student Activities Commission ended without a vote early Tuesday morning.
The committee heard the complaint of two students opposed to Love Saxa, who argued that the university should not provide material support to the group. The complainants claim Love Saxa fosters “hatred” and “intolerance” by promoting its view of marriage as existing exclusively between one man and one woman. The students also cited instances in which Love Saxa invited speakers to campus who spoke against LGBTQ equality.
The meeting adjourned at 12:30 a.m. after over three hours of questions and deliberation because the Healey Family Student Center, the location of the meeting, closes at 1 a.m.
About 100 students attended the hearing, which was only open to Georgetown students and members of staff or faculty. Attendees quickly filled the meeting room to capacity, leaving about 50 students who were turned away to crowd outside and watch through the open doors until the hearing was moved to a larger room.
The dispute started Sept. 25 when LGBTQ student activists raised concerns against Love Saxa to Assistant Dean for Student Engagement Erika Cohen-Derr. The students argued that Love Saxa’s definition of marriage and relationships violated a clause of the Division of Student Affairs’ Student Organization Standards.
The relevant clause states that no student groups are “eligible for access to benefits if their purpose or activities … foster hatred or intolerance of others because of their race, nationality, gender, religion or sexual preference.”
Following standard practice, Derr referred the complaint to the Student Activities Commission, a committee of undergraduate students that operates under the authority of university administrators to allocate funding to student organizations that comply with its standards. SAC allocates about $350,000 to more than 110 student organizations annually, according to its website.
The committee’s ultimate decision can be appealed to the university’s director of student engagement, Amanda Carlton. Her decision can in turn be appealed to Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson.
Love Saxa receives $250 annually in university funding. As an unrecognized student group, it would not have access to university resources, such as the use of classrooms for events.
Love Saxa’s constitution states the organization’s mission is “cultivating a proper understanding of sex, gender, marriage, and family” on campus. It also states that the club’s programming — including discussions, lectures and public campaigns — are intended to increase awareness of the benefits of the “primacy of marriage,” “understood as a monogamous and permanent union between a man and a woman.”
The students seeking to defund Love Saxa argued that the club’s purpose is “homophobic” and “dehumanizing” to LGBTQ students.
Love Saxa President Amelia Irvine (COL ’19) and Vice President Hunter Estes (SFS ’19) countered that the views espoused by Love Saxa are rooted in Catholic and Jesuit tradition and are deeply held religious beliefs for many of the group’s members. They also argued the club’s stance is a political opinion rather than a matter of intolerance.
Irvine and Estes said Love Saxa’s activities include advocacy on a number of other issues and have recently been focused on opposing pornography and the prevalence of a “hookup culture” on college campuses.
The complainants said their action followed the publication of a viewpoint in The Hoya written by Irvine, who wrote that the group’s definition of marriage “does not include same-sex couples, as [Love Saxa members] believe that marriage is a conjugal union on every level — emotional, spiritual, physical and mental — directed toward caring for biological children.”
Love Saxa has had a contentious relationship with LGBTQ student groups on campus since protests in 2013 led by then-GU Pride President Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15). Love Saxa took a yearlong hiatus beginning in spring 2016 after members did not submit a budget to SAC.
The effort to strip Love Saxa’s funding has drawn criticism in religious and politically conservative circles. Prominent author Fr. James Martin, S.J., and Princeton University professor Robert George, a conservative Catholic, condemned the effort in interviews with the Catholic News Agency, an online religious news source.
Irvine said she stands by the decision of past Love Saxa leadership in the fall of 2013 to invite to campus Ryan Anderson, a fellow of The Heritage Foundation and an author known for opposing LGBTQ rights. Estes said that the push to strip Love Saxa of its university funding constitutes censorship of free speech.
Students opposing Love Saxa pointed to the unrecognized pro-abortion rights student group H*yas for Choice, which regularly hosts events and expresses its views on campus even though it has been denied official recognition by the university.
The committee did not decide as of press time on a date to reconvene for a final vote.
This post has been updated.
Agnes Moore says
I would ask those voting to consider the following request, and maybe then they’d have their answer.
If a group on campus was gathered to get others to believe that heterosexual sex, relationships, and marriage were sinful, would you find this offensive? I’m guessing that answers would be a resounding yes. And if asked if it would hurt them, I’m guessing that, too, would be a yes.
Sounds like the members of Love Saxa may be insecure in their own belief systems and, therefore, can’t stand to allow other belief systems. But to give credence to a group that demands fealty to their beliefs falls under that which is tyrannical.
If Love Saxa gets its way, a time just might come in which a group AGAINST straight marriage will want to be sanctioned. And then it will be really hard for the board not to also grant that request.
Precedent is a thing.
No, while I would disagree with the hypothetical group’s opinions it would neither offend nor hurt me. It would also not hurt any straight people.
Members of Love Saxa are not the ones refusing to allow any other belief systems to exist on Georgetown’s campus. They are the ones potentially at risk of losing their sanctioned status, not any LGBT advocacy group.
“Agnes,” the beliefs of Love Saxa are the same as those of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church; therefore, you are describing Francis and the entire Church as “tyrannical.” If you accept the arguments of those attacking Love Saxa, then you believe that the entire Catholic Church is a hate group. (Unfortunately, Gasman has made no attempt to hide his contempt for Catholics.)
If you choose to attend Georgetown, you choose to attend a Catholic university. At a school based on Catholic values, all students are equally human, but not all points of view are equally valid. (The Catholic Church opposes polygamy, although there might be students on campus who support it. According to your reasoning, any organization on campus that opposes polygamy is intolerant, tyrannical and must be defunded.) In addition, your hypothetical scenario about a group that opposes straight marriage makes no sense, as the board can easily deny the group funding for promoting beliefs that violate the school’s Catholic values.
Instead of attacking Catholic values, take advantage of an opportunity to learn more about them. If you do, you’ll see that the campus is a better place when groups like Love Saxa are included.
Hoya 2019 says
“The effort to strip Love Saxa’s funding has drawn criticism in religious and politically conservative circles. Prominent author Fr. James Martin, S.J., and Princeton University professor Robert George, a conservative Catholic, condemned the effort in interviews with the Catholic News Agency, an online religious news source.”
I don’t understand. Is the author of this article trying to imply that Fr. James Martin is a conservative—despite his criticism of the Catholic Church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community in the past and widespread reputation as being one of the most liberal American priests on issues of sexuality? Or is the author of this article so far to the left that Fr. Martin looks like a conservative to them anyway? Is this paragraph purposely misleading or just poorly written?
Hoya2019: You have to understand the writer and editors of The Hoya are being typically biased here. They’ll be great at producing fake news if they decide to become journalists.
The reason why they don’t mention that Martin is a very liberal Catholic is because doing so would show just how hateful the LGBTQ communityat Georgetown is and how radical this proposal is and how fascist liberals have become.
This happens all the time. They leave pertinent information out, or they spin stories and frame them to support their preferred narrative, or they intensely cover a subject that doesn’t deserve it causing a misconception among the general population about how real the problem is (i.e. one would think based on media coverage that colleges were hell holes for women and everyone is being raped, when the truth is quite the opposite).
Oh yeah, and then their is the silencing of voices which the Hoya does regularly whenever they get comments they disagree too much with.
Mike Periu says
I respectfully suggest you consider the irony of your comment. “Sounds like the members of Love Saxa may be insecure in their own belief systems and, therefore, can’t stand to allow other belief systems. ”
Since its members of the LGBTQ student community who want to silence Love Saxa it stands to reason that they are the ones who can’t stand other belief systems.
Also there is nothing tyrannical about a group expecting members to accept its beliefs. Its common sense. That isn’t even the issue here. Your personal opinion or my personal opinion aren’t the point.
The point is students who disagree with a group don’t have the right to make them shut up just because they don’t like what the group says. That isn’t how a pluralistic society works. That’s how a tyranny works.
Peter Cohee says
Mr Cirillo’s use of quotation marks is, well, remarkable.
When he writes, “The complainants claim Love Saxa fosters ‘hatred’ and ‘intolerance’ by promoting its view of marriage as existing exclusively between one man and one woman,” the (inner) quotations indicate that these words and beliefs are those of the complainants. So far so good.
Then he writes, “The students also cited instances in which Love Saxa invited speakers to campus who spoke against LGBTQ equality.” This absence of quote marks apparently indicates Mr Cirillo’s equation of the support and promotion of natural marriage with being “against LGBTQ equality.” Did the speakers really say “We are against LGBTQ equality?” I’m guessing they did not.
In a similar fashion, “Ryan Anderson, … an author known for opposing LGBTQ rights.” No quotes here, so it seems the defense and support of what many millions of human beings have always understood marriage to be is now equal to opposition to LGBTQ rights. But why not “Ryan Anderson, … who writes widely in defense of traditional marriage.”? The phrase “known for” is often employed as a pejorative, as in “Ted Bundy, a Republican known for murdering many women.”
Mr Cirillo’s constructions also betray his bias. For example, “Love Saxa has had a contentious relationship with LGBTQ student groups on campus since protests in 2013 led by then-GU Pride President Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15).” The non-finite, passive-voice phrase “since … (SFS ’15)” is either an avoidance of uncomfortable facts or just plain bad writing: one leads to the other, usually. A finite, active-voice clause would have been “since then-GU Pride President Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15) led protests in 2013.” Now, that’s rather different, isn’t it?
Mr Cirillo, a style suggestion, if I may: Clear and simple as the truth, sir.