Pace Law School Dean Intervenes in Christian Organization Case
January 30, 2007
by Tara Sweeney
Hours after FIRE issued its press release yesterday announcing that the Student Bar Association (SBA) at Pace Law School denied recognition to the Christian Law Students’ Association (CLSA), Law School Dean Stephen Friedman announced that he disagreed with the SBA’s decision. In his memo, Friedman summarized the SBA’s position:
Based on my discussions with Dean [for Students Angela] D’Agostino and with representatives of the SBA, I understand that its decision rested on a conclusion that the listing of specific religious tenets in the proposed constitution of CLSA was inconsistent with the SBA’s belief that student organizations should be broad-based and inclusive – in this case, inclusive enough to make all Christian students comfortable with membership. The proposed constitution was amended to explicitly state “In the conduct of all aspects of its activities the Chapter shall not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, color, national origin, race, sex, religion or Christian denomination, sexual orientation, physical handicap or veteran status. CLSA welcomes all members of the Pace student body as well as professors and employees.” Nevertheless, the SBA believed that Christian students of other denominations would not be comfortable with the very specific list of religious tenets. Although other student organizations have a non-inclusive focus (the Pace Democrats, Pace Republicans, Pace Federalist Society, Pace Jewish Law Students Association, etc.), the SBA believed that the fact that none of those organizations list specific beliefs in their constitutions differentiated them from the proposed constitution of CLSA.