Gonzaga University will not allow students to organize a Knights of Columbus chapter because the group only admits Catholics – a violation of the school’s non-discrimination policy.
Gonzaga, a Roman Catholic university in Spokane, Wash., had concerns over a requirement that “all members of a student Knights of Columbus group must be Catholic.”
“These criteria are inconsistent with the policy and practice of student organization recognition at Gonzaga University, as well as the University’s commitment to non-discrimination based on certain characteristics, one of which is religion,” wrote Sue Weitz, the university’s vice president for student life – in a letter obtained by The Cardinal Newman Society.
Students told The Cardinal Newman Society they had been trying to get university approval for the group for about a year – but school officials have been less than helpful.
“To embrace the diversity and yet endorse a group based on faith exclusivity is a challenge that cannot be reconciled at this time,” she wrote — adding that it was a decision about “social justice, equity, and the desire of the university to create an environment in which none are excluded.”
Weitz told the students in a letter that the ‘Catholics-only’ policy was an issue.
“I believe strongly in the University’s commitment to non-discrimination and inclusivity,” she wrote. “If Gonzaga was an institution that served only Catholics and limited the benefits of the collegiate experience only to them, the decision-making process may have been different.”
Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, told Fox News that the ban is absolutely ridiculous.
“It boggles the mind that an institution that is Catholic can’t figure out a way to allow exceptions to the rule,” He said. “This is a Catholic organization that is legitimately designed for men only.”
The outcry has been so significant that Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh said they will review the decision.
“The university is concerned that all of the factors involved in this decision have not been represented in their entirety, and thus may be misunderstood,” the university said in a prepared statement. “Gonzaga honors and respects the purpose and good works of the Knights of Columbus.”
Reilly said there’s no reason why the university should have a problem with the Knights of Columbus.
“We don’t know where that will go,” he said, referring to the review. “I’m concerned about the direction of the university in general – but we are hopeful they make a wise decision.”
The university said it could take up to 45 days to review the issue.