The danger of double standards

As students, administrators and CC members try to determine whether Williams Christian Fellowship (WCF) violated the College’s non-discrimination policy, and as WCF considers its actions going forward, the group specifically and the campus as a whole must take into consideration what a constitution can and cannot accomplish.

Although WCF and the student leader who was asked to step down have all reported that the controversy stemmed from a refusal to commit to sexual abstinence rather than her sexual orientation, the fact remains that the concerns regarding the leader were initially brought forth in the context of homosexuality. We have no choice but to take WCF at its word, but we would like to believe that heterosexual leaders of WCF-affiliated groups are held equally accountable for their sexual activity. These circumstances prove that while policies may be neutral on the surface, students still have the leeway to take discriminatory stances in practice. We are left wondering whether a sexually active heterosexual student’s behavior would have become the subject of all-campus discussion in the same way – a double standard that is unacceptable.

Whether or not WCF disaffiliates from InterVarsity, we expect that WCF’s new constitution, in whatever form it takes, will explicitly uphold the values of the non-discrimination policies around which recent debate has centered. Additionally, it seems that an unambiguous statement explicating what is expected of leaders should stem from this incident in order to avoid the sorts of issues that arose with ABS.

However necessary a constitution is in this situation, it does not resolve the underlying issues. To avoid hypocrisy, all students must have the integrity to follow the responsibilities they undertake when assuming leadership positions and to let he who is without sin be the first to throw stones. Additionally, students must acknowledge that leadership entails influence in our community, a consequence no one should take lightly. This is true not just in the context of WCF, but in the context of the College in its entirety.

Nevertheless, we applaud the honest and constructive conversations that members of campus have engaged in thus far, even though we regret that the private behavior of one student have been aired for public debate. Ultimately, the fact that the community has been able to talk about these issues in a productive way bodes well for our ability to continue in the battle for equality.

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  • Andrew Quinn

    “our ability to continue in the battle for equality”

    I think there’s another double standard well-represented, if subconsciously, in this editorial. If the WCF is a group that gathers voluntarily to share their common values, does “equality” really eviscerate any ability of the group to demand specific commitments of its leadership?

    If a hard-core conservative somehow ascended to the leadership of the progressive Roosevelt Institute, would it be so absurd, so oppressive, or so appalling if the club removed from its leadership someone who didn’t embody their values? Naturally, sexuality is a more complicated issue than political orientation, but I think we need to be careful that the worthy goal of campus-wide inclusivity and equality doesn’t completely cancel out the right of people with a specific set of personal beliefs to gather in celebration of those shared views.

    Oh, and the Record’s double standard? If the perpetrators weren’t traditionalist Christians, would any similar event have received such opinionated, one-way coverage?