By Lauren Pinkston
In a close vote by the Student Government Association, Cell 91, a club promoting chastity and the teachings of Pope John Paul II, was the first club ever to be denied recognition on campus.
Cell 91 club president Emilia Walasik began the process of instituting the club in March. Walasik said: “I have fulfilled all the requirements for a club to be approved, including having a petition of at least 100 signatures from students. Even though I have completed all the necessary steps during this past year, the Student Government Association treated our club unfairly.”
SGA decided not to acknowledge the club because senators believed the values are already represented on campus by University Ministry. Additionally, they found the mission to be too exclusive.
Former SGA Vice President Spencer Clark attended the general assembly in which senators voted on the club’s recognition. He was in support of the club’s acknowledgement, however SGA president and vice presidents do not vote unless they need to break a tie.
Clark said: “The senators decided that the club was not needed on campus because we already have University Ministry. Everyone was really split between the decision but they were a little exclusive because only those who shared the same views could attend.” Clark has since stepped down from his position as vice president, for unrelated reasons.
Walasik said she believes the club was treated unfairly and says their mission statement clearly states those with contrasting values may still attend club meetings and events. Cell 91’s mission statement is as follows: “The purpose of the club is to promote chastity before marriage, to promote true love, to advocate for traditional family structures as taught by the Roman Catholic Church and to promote strong and life-long friendships. The club aims to create a safe space for those who share these beliefs. However, even those who do not share these beliefs but who simply want to learn more about them are welcome as well.
Although the club was denied recognition, Clark said members can still meet, however, they cannot request funds from SGA or request venues on campus to hold meetings or events.
Clubs are granted the option to appeal SGA votes but Student Involvement Student Worker Mosam Amin explained that although they instituted an appeal process in response to the situation, Cell 91 members have not followed the procedure.
Amin said: “SGA did not have an appeal process until this semester but this is a newly developed process. Cell 91 has not made any efforts to appeal. They do not want to go through SGA. They want an alternate route, which unfortunately is not possible.”
Walasik made efforts to proceed with Cell 91’s recognition by altering the constitution to become more inclusive and meeting with Student Involvement Coordinator Ian Van Anden. Van Anden has since left his position at Dominican but was able to confirm his role in the situation.
Van Anden said: “I did have several meetings with the Cell 91 leadership prior to my departure from Dominican. Our conversations focused on what their options were throughout the registration process as well as what institution support was available to them.”
Walasik said she thought the appeal process unfair because it is lacks formality and is essentially the same as the original application process. Walasik said: “I have personally spoken with several SGA senators who have admitted to me that the vote was biased, based on personal opinions rather than on a fair vote. In conclusion, I have to say that I believe that this is ironically a diversity issue. We are a liberal arts college that supports and is open to all opinions, sides, and views and yet, when a group of Catholic students wants to have a club that promotes Catholic values at a Catholic university, all of a sudden there is an issue.”