New student government bill calls for religious diversity

Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer

In the political realm of Baylor University, there is an outcry for diverse religious groups. The Student Senate is reviewing a bill that states that there is a need for diverse religious groups on campus. The university currently has a rule that students religious organizations must affirm their beliefs align with the Baylor University Statement of Common Faith.

Amman, Jordan, senior Abdula Ghali, a Muslim student, wrote the bill in November and it is currently under review by the Student Senate Campus Improvements and Affairs Committee. Ghali, a future medical school student, is an advocate for diverse religious groups since his freshman year.

“This bill means everything to me,” Ghali said. “The bill means I can practice my culture and religion and have a place on campus. Even though I am graduating [in May], it won’t affect me very much, but it’s for those who are in my place looking for a sense of belonging but couldn’t find it.”

Dallas sophomore Suzie Tkach is a sponsor of the bill, believes that students of different faiths should be allowed to form groups and be recognized by the university. As a Senator in Baylor’s Student Senate, Tkach is eager to be a part of this bill with Ghali.

“I believe that this bill asking Baylor to be more accommodating and I’ve recognized how Baylor capitalizes on its diversity when recruiting students of other faiths and then doesn’t allow equal opportunities when they are,” Tkach said.

The bill, under the 65th legislative session of the Baylor Student Senate, also acknowledges in Texas that other Christian Texas universities allow non Christian religious groups on campus. Schools such as Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University allow for the existence of non-Christian religious organizations. At Baylor, a non-Christian religious group would not reflect the “faith statement” it adheres to.

“I think that it’s really important,” Tkach said. “A Muslim organization would not reflect the faith statement of Baylor, but I believe it should be allowed to be recognized, because I think this is kind of crossing that line of being a private Christian school and being unable to accomodate.”

The bill acknowledges Baylor’s faith statement and the effects it has on Baylor’s student body.

“Placing the faith statement as a requirement prevents the existence of organizations such as but not limited to ‘The Muslim Student Association’ or ‘The Jewish Student Association’; and Baylor University adheres to the teachings of Christianity, and the Bible includes many references about inclusion for those who do not adhere to Christianity,” the bill states.

Tkach and Ghali said they hope the bill will be passed later this semester and offer the resolution of amending the Baylor University charter requirement.