The California State University, Long Beach Student Freedom of Association Act intends to reform the “open membership” policy so that student groups can co-exist on campus, SOFA stated in a press release Friday.
By adhering to the “open membership” requirement, many student organizations are made “vulnerable,” according to CSU SOFA. Clubs are required to accept members or leaders to their group who may disagree with the basic tenants of their groups.
“Reforming the ‘open membership’ can be beneficial because it ensures that no organization is kept off of campus because of its view points,” Joseph Cohn, the legislative and policy director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said.
Founded in September 2014 by Nate and Logan Honeycutt, CSU SOFA aims to unify CSU student organizations and other concerned individuals to advocate with a unified voice for comprehensive reform pertaining to the “Open Membership” policy mandated by CSU Executive Order 1068.
According to the CSU SOFA website, diversity is created when students take initiative to form organizations that reflect their interests, passions and goals, and use these groups to advocate for their particular cause. If a student did not like a club they were currently active at on campus, they could create their own club, the website stated.
“The bill is a positive step toward protecting student organizations on public university campuses in California,” Honeycutt said. “Too many student groups have been forced to compromise their values and kicked off campus because they refused to compromise.”
Cohn said that goal of the bill is to ensure that all students “find a home” within CSU organizations.
“It is about trying to make sure that individuals can find organizations that represent their own view points without the university saying which views are acceptable and what views aren’t,” Cohn said.
Cohn said that if there were a club devoted to Evangelical Christians, and a Catholic member joined or a member of the LBGT community, the club would not fully be one for Evangelical Christians and their strict beliefs. Instead of having multiple different viewpoints within a group, CSU SOFA petitioned to allow individuals the right to have their own separate organizations so that all voices are heard within a group without any discrimination.
“Generally, people don’t join clubs that they’re not interested in,” said Richard De Leon, a senior sociology major and a member of the Model United Nations club. “If someone does join a club just to be on the contrary, they will be in the minority. Their views will be heard but they won’t have much influence.”
CSU SOFA’s goal is to increase campus diversity by providing an even platform for students to organize and self-identify around competing values. “Under this bill, LGBT organizations and evangelical organizations would both be able to co-exist, without the universities deciding which organization’s viewpoints were acceptable,” Cohn said.
The CSU system-wide organization intends to permit students of different groups and backgrounds to feel comfortable within their own organizations on CSU campuses.