The Christian a cappella group Psalm 100 did not violate the University’s non-discrimination policy when it ousted a gay member in August, said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp on Thursday.
Members of Psalm 100 voted unanimously to remove senior Will Thomason, who is gay, on Aug. 28 for his views on homosexuality.
Crisp said the University did not find enough evidence to conclude that the group’s expulsion of Thomason was based on his sexual orientation rather than his beliefs.
The non-discrimination policy states that student groups can limit their memberships to students who share specific beliefs but cannot deny any student based on a certain set of personal characteristics, which includes sexual orientation.
But Crisp said administrators might soon consider institutional changes.
“I think we probably should take a look at the policy itself,” he said.
Thomason said he was disappointed by the University’s decision.
“There does need to be a change in the non-discrimination policy,” Thomason said, adding that groups’ constitutions should be made to be more explicit.
“When each member joins, I think there needs to be a discussion of exactly what it means to be in that group,” Thomason said.
Blake Templeton, general director of the group, said he was pleased the group will be able to keep operating, and that it has no plans to change its constitution.
“As long as Psalm 100’s constitution is based on the Bible we’ll continue to make decisions based on what the Bible says,” Templeton said.
In a statement released by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center on Thursday, the center’s director Terri Phoenix said groups’ constitutions should be more explicit.
“While the policy as written may have compelled the finding that no discrimination occurred, nowhere in the constitution of Psalm 100 did the organization make explicit their requirement that members believe that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity,” Phoenix said.
Templeton said in August that the group voted to remove Thomason because his views on homosexuality violated the group’s constitution.
Phoenix said the current policy is too vague and puts students in difficult positions with campus groups.
“It is unreasonable to ask someone to make a choice between different parts of who they are,” Phoenix said. “I think that’s a very challenging choice to put people in, and I think it’s unfair that that’s the position that Psalm 100 in this case put Will into.
“When you ask someone to deny part of who they are or to have self-loathing for who they are, is that really in the spirit of our non-discrimination policy?”
Crisp acknowledged that there will be people who both strongly agree and disagree with the University’s decision.
“Either way it goes, it is the result that is compelled by the policy,” he said.
Crisp said UNC’s non-discrimination policy was crafted several years ago after a similar incident with Christian fraternity Alpha Iota Omega in 2004.
“It was written to be what the North Carolina court felt was compliant to the law of the land,” he said.
“The policy we have is certainly not the only kind of policy that a university could have,” Crisp added.
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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