Pace University: Christian Student Organization Denied Recognition
After months of pressure from FIRE, Pace Law School approved the constitution of the Christian Law Students Association (CLSA), allowing the group to pursue its religious mission. CLSA leader Cari Rincker tried to form a chapter of the national Christian Legal Society (CLS), calling her group the Pace Christian Legal Society (PCLS). In accordance with national CLS rules, she drafted a constitution that limited membership to students who were willing to sign and live by a statement of faith. After receiving hostility around campus, Rincker changed the constitution taking out the required statement of faith and adding, "Those that disagree with any or all of the aforementioned beliefs are still welcome to be members." With a new group name, Christian Law Students Association, Rincker applied for recognition. Despite Pace's clear promise to grant students freedom of association, the Student Bar Association rejected the group's application for recognition. FIRE wrote to then-Law School Dean Stephen J. Friedman and eventually the group was granted recognition.
- "Victory for Freedom of Association at Pace Law School," August 8, 2007: After months of public pressure from FIRE, Pace Law School has finally approved the constitution of the Christian Law Students Association (CLSA), allowing the group to pursue its religious mission. The CLSA’s status had been uncertain since January, when Pace objected to the group’s constitution, leaving members unsure if they could maintain the organization’s Christian character. The CLSA will begin the 2007-2008 school year as a fully recognized student group, with the same rights as all other groups on campus.
- "FIRE Letter to Pace Law School Dean Stephen Friedman, April 6, 2007," April 6, 2007
- "E-mail from Dean Angela D'Agostino to Cari Rincker, February 26, 2007," February 26, 2007
- "Pace Recognizes Christian Group," February 26, 2007: Pace Law School has decided to recognize the Christian Law Students’ Association (CLSA), a student organization that was denied recognition last fall. As FIRE reported in January, the Student Bar Association (SBA) denied recognition to the group because it felt that the group’s Christian nature, as expressed in its constitution, would be unwelcoming to non-Christians. Hours after FIRE issued a press release emphasizing the importance of free association, Law School Dean Stephen Friedman intervened by publicly disagreeing with the SBA’s decision and asking Pace’s legal counsel to review the CLSA constitution. Even though legal counsel has not yet made public its revisions to the CLSA constitution—which could include significant changes to the description of the group’s Christian mission—Pace announced today that it will officially recognize the CLSA. FIRE hopes that any official alterations to the constitution do not infringe on the group’s expressive purpose, and will be watching developments closely.
- "Memo from Pace Law School Dean Stephen Friedman to CLSA, January 29, 2007," January 29, 2007
- "Pace Law School Denies Recognition to Religious Student Organization," January 29, 2007: Pace Law School’s Student Bar Association (SBA) has ignored the school’s promises to uphold students’ freedom of association by denying official recognition to a Christian student organization. Even after the Pace Christian Legal Society reformed its identity to explicitly open its membership to everyone in the Pace community, the SBA denied the group recognition, claiming its religious identity would not be welcoming to non-Christian students. The organization’s leadership contacted FIRE for help soon after the SBA delivered its decision. FIRE urges Pace Law School’s administration to intervene, to ensure that all Pace students are afforded the same rights.
- "Christian Legal Society Regulations on Affiliate Chapter Constitutions," January 26, 2007
- "E-mail from Law School Dean Stephen J. Friedman to Cari Rincker, January 26, 2007," January 26, 2007
- "Letter from Pace Law School Dean Stephen J. Friedman to FIRE, January 19, 2007," January 19, 2007
- "FIRE Letter to Pace Law School Dean Stephen J. Friedman, January 11, 2007," January 11, 2007
- "E-mail from Pace Law School Dean for Students Angela D'Agostino to Cari Rincker, January 9, 2007," January 9, 2007
- "E-mail from National Christian Legal Society to Cari Rincker, November 20, 2006," November 20, 2006
- "Pace Law School Student Handbook: Student Organizations," September 1, 2006
- "Pace Christian Legal Society Revised Constitution, September, 2006," September 1, 2006
- "Pace Law School Student Handbook," September 1, 2006
- "Pace Christian Legal Society First Proposed Constitution, March, 2006," March 1, 2006
- "NY law school rejects Christian student group,"
by Jim Brown, Journal Chretien, February 2, 2007
- "Law school conflict puts First Amendment under microscope,"
by Joe Murray, The Bulletin, January 31, 2007