Differing opinions arose in the ASCLU-G Senate over whether or not the ASCLU constitutional preamble should be reworded to include a more interfaith dialogue.
Senate is now leaving it up to the student body to finalize the decision.
“We are trying to make a climate change on campus that is more ready for interfaith, that is more confident in trying to articulate what being a Lutheran institution for higher education means, what Lutheran principles are and how those principles, in addition to our own, allow us to engage interfaith dialogue,” said senior Rebecca Cardone, current ASCLU-G president.
On Monday, March 18, Senate voted on a new constitutional amendment to change the wording of the current preamble phrase of the student body constitution, “to further Christian growth,” to say, “to inspire the maturity of faith and reason in an environment of Lutheran tradition.”
The interfaith constitutional amendment, as Cardone called it, passed in the Senate by a vote of 13-2-0.
“We have been trying to think of a new language, that instead of ‘to further Christian growth,’ might be more reflective of our student body and more inclusive in embracing of all of our community,” said Cardone.
According to Cardone, in 2011 an amendment rewording was attempted, but it created a backlash in the community.
“Two camps within the CLU community formed, polarizing the discussion,” said Cardone.
One side wanted to keep the campus more specifically Lutheran and furthering Christian growth, while the other wanted to include more of an interfaith dialogue to make other students with different faiths feel more welcome.
Senate does not want this division to build again as a result of this new proposed amendment.
Cardone said in the fall of 2011, California Lutheran University began actively engaging in conversations about why interfaith matters on campus, while affirming the university’s Lutheran name, addressing the concerns of the two groups.
“It made us realize why interfaith dialogue is necessary at CLU,” said Cardone. “The whole point is that language matters and words matter. We really need to be a welcoming environment for all of our students and also encourage spiritual development for those who are religious and for those who are not religious, and allow that growth on an individual level without necessarily pushing one perspective on people.”
Sophomore Paige Piper, a Senate member, voted against the passing of the interfaith constitutional amendment.
“It is an unnecessary change towards what already goes on at CLU,” said Piper. “I just feel that it is a disappointment to those people who founded the university, and it’s one step away from the Lutheran tradition that we have here.”
Piper also addressed several other concerns, including that she didn’t believe the preamble should be something that should be changed over time.
Shireen Ismail, a junior at CLU and president of the newly founded Muslim Student Association, disagreed and believes preambles can be changed.
“If the Constitution of the United States can be changed, I’m sure the preamble of ASCLU-G can be changed,” said Ismail.
“The reason we have amendments is so that it works with the time, but now things have changed on campus.”
She spoke out in one of the Senate meetings about how she favored changing the wording of the current preamble.
“I am completely and totally for the interfaith constitutional amendment,” said Ismail. “I think students should vote for it to change because it definitely defines how this campus already is.”
Ismail said that as a Muslim student, she has felt very welcomed on campus and that she was even encouraged to create the Muslim Student Association.
Cardone wants to make sure that people know this change is in the student body constitution, and not the university constitution. This amendment will also not affect how the university functions.
“We are realigning the student constitution more throughout with the university constitution,” said Cardone. “We are already engaging interfaith on campus in a phenomenal way, even without this amendment existing or passing. We are not moving away from our Lutheran identity in any means.”
Voting opens on April 10 at 8 a.m. and closes on April 11 at 5 p.m. on Blackboard under the link to the ASCLU general election.
It has to pass with two-thirds of the student body vote in order for it to become an official amendment.
Published April 10, 2013