By: David L
There’s been a controversy over at Gonzaga University for the past week ago revolving around a Knights of Columbus council a group of young men is looking to form. The student clubs’ office at Gonzaga has rejected their application for funding because, according to the school's vice-president for student life,
“The Knights of Columbus, by their very nature, is a men’s organization in which only Catholics may participate via membership. 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.”
This actually isn’t an isolated incident; a group of men (including myself) at Fordham University has also been trying to get a Knights council started. They, too, have been denied official club status—but on the grounds that they are an inherently sexist organization.
I’d like to note that, although both schools are run by the Jesuits, it would be unfair to pin this one on the Society of Jesus. The Fordham Knights’ council has received support from a number of Jesuits on campus, and is currently incorporated as a group within Campus Ministry, which is quite firmly under Jesuit control. The Jesuits have limited control over the administrative body overseeing clubs and student activities. I don’t know the specifics of the Gonzaga knights’ situation, but I’ve read that they have also been incorporated within their school’s Campus Ministry, so I imagine that their situation is similar.
I’m not trying to say that it isn’t a disturbing situation when a group like the Knights of Columbus can’t be sponsored by a Catholic university. I’m not saying that criticism of the Gonzaga administration isn’t warranted. However, I think the problems stem from a deeper problem of identity with Catholic universities, and highlights some of the difficulties with running a college in a secular world.
Quotes, Photo Credit: Catholic World Report:
c. David L. 2013