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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Letter to the editor: April 29, 2015

The Arizona Daily Star and the Daily Wildcat recently ran a series of articles regarding alleged coercive practices of Tucson-based Faith Christian Church and its UA ministry activities. In reading the accounts of UA alumni, in the articles and via email, I am disturbed by the detailed reports and hope for healing and recovery for each individual.

While the articles detailed investigations being conducted by the Dean of Students Office and the University Religious Council, it is important to clarify exactly what is being investigated and who is doing the investigating.

The Dean of Students Office is not investigating the church itself, as the university’s jurisdiction is limited to investigating alleged violations of its Student Club & Organization Handbook, which governs club recognition and usage of university resources, including facilities, equipment and services. Because the university, as a governmental entity, must always be mindful of neither promoting nor impeding religion, its “investigation” would be no different if the alleged violations were attributed to a sports club, an honorary or social greek letter organization. Our concern is with conduct and adherence to university rules and regulations, not beliefs.

Moreover, the University Religious Council is not administered or otherwise controlled by the UA. Instead, it is a self-governed group of clerical and other leaders of the various religious organizations that have a presence on or near campus. Because it has its own constitution and rules of governance, any “investigation” that it may be conducting is separate-and-apart from the university.

Public universities like the UA are charged with being religiously neutral. The recent articles in the Daily Wildcat and Arizona Daily Star were informative, but must be read and understood in the context of both the UA’s obligations and limitations. In the end, almost all of our students are adults who are free to make their own choices on religious affiliations.

The articles did raise an important issue relevant to any organization, in that the purported “cult like” dynamics attributed to Faith Christian Church can occur in other organizations, just with their own particular spin. To that end, the Dean of Students Office is hosting a series of educational sessions with a nationally known expert regarding cult dynamics in an effort to increase the campus community’s awareness and knowledge.

— Kendal Washington White, Dean of Students

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