A budding new freethought group at Wilfrid Laurier University made a dreadful mistake in their application: they actually admitted that their goal was “to promote science, freedom of inquiry, skepticism, and a good life without the need for superstition or religious belief.” I don’t know about you, but I think that final clause is rather an essential one for a freethought group, and is an important premise to lay out clearly. On the other hand, when was the last time you saw one of the ubiquitous campus religious groups state that they want to promote science, reason, skepticism, and open inquiry? They generally seem to be dedicated to the opposite.
campus student administrators dithered and fussed and fretted over it, and finally issued a denial with this bit of petty handwringing:
While the Campus Clubs department understands the goals and visions of your organization, they are not compatible with the guidelines of what may be approved and incorporated into our department. While the promotion of reason, science and freedom of inquiry are perfectly legitimate goals, what is most in question in regards to your club’s vision is the promotion of “a fulfilling life without religion and superstition”. While this university is indeed technically a secular institution, secular does not denote taking an active stance in opposition to the principles and status of religious beliefs and practices. To be clear, this is not meant to say that the promotion of science and reason are illegitimate goals. But due to the need to respect and tolerate the views of others, the Campus Clubs department is unable to approve a club of this nature at this time. If you wish to adjust and rethink your club’s application and vision, you may resubmit a revised proposal at any time.
What self-serving dishonest tripe. They’ve got a Campus Crusade for Christ group; did they send them a rejection telling them that Wilfrid Laurier is a secular institution and therefore cannot be seen as endorsing a sectarian religious club? Is there a contract incoming students must sign that says they must all forfeit any independent thoughts that might be perceived as reflecting something other than the university’s mission statement? Apparently, the group organizers are thinking about rephrasing their application more diplomatically, but I think they’d be better off scouting the Canadian forests for a nice, sharp, splintery stick that they could send in with the suggestion that the prim and persnickety pecksniff who rejected their original application should sit on it and spin.
I’d also urge them to gather their potential members and protest publicly and loudly. There’s nothing like a good fierce howl to get a group off with a bang, and who needs official recognition for your group when your first action is to rally in opposition to the sanctimonious fusspots of the administration? When the gatekeepers are the problem, don’t pander to them, storm them.