A fight to find a place on campus

Lengthy application process denies religious group on campus privileges despite student interest.

By Katelyn Montero

For many students at USD, participation in student organizations is a driving force that shapes, enriches and even defines their experiences as an undergraduate. However, before an organization is allowed to post flyers on the events board or set up booths outside of the UC, they are required to go through a lengthy application process. The non-denominational Christian organization Young Life is one example of how not all organizations make the cut. Young Life is a national organization with branches at 1,353 middle schools, 2,351 high schools, and 81 colleges, but USD will not be one of them.

For the most part, student organizations only need a faculty advisor, ten founding members and a governing document in order to get approved to be on campus at USD. However, religious and national organizations go through a specialized process that is designed to determine whether or not the organization’s core values clash with the university’s. This process consists of presenting in front of a panel comprised of representatives from Student Affairs, Associated Students and University Ministry. It was this panel that chose not to approve Young Life to come on campus.

Mandy Womack, the director of Student Organizations and Greek Life, believes that ultimately the decision came down to whether or not Young Life could offer anything new. “There have been a lot of conversations about whether this is offering something that isn’t being offered other places,” Womack said. The panel believed that University Ministry and InterVarsity, also a non-denominational Christian group, sufficiently met the needs of the students. However, there is a small group of the USD population that feels otherwise.

Every Tuesday, a small group of about 15 to 20 students meet at Mission Beach to attend Young Life Linda Vista.

“The thing is that we’re trying to reach students who wouldn’t normally come to these things,” sophomore Ali West explains. “We just want them [the school] to see that we bring something different to the community that isn’t being reached yet.”

The weekly meetings are overseen by Young Life director Sullivan Saunders, who explains that she respects the university’s decision but that not being allowed on campus makes reaching students much more difficult.

“It’s a little hard to get the word out since we’re not allowed to be on campus, put the name USD on anything we do or go to the Alcala Bazaar,” Saunders said. “I think that even just being able to go to the Alcala Bazaar and talk to students would be amazing for us.”

Saunders believes that this reputation is something that sets Young Life apart from the other religious organizations on campus.

“The thing with Young Life is that because it’s in middle school and high school, it’s already in people’s minds and they might be more willing to check out what the college version is like,” Sullivan said.

Junior Jordan Leonard believes that having the organization on campus would have been a welcome consistency during the transition from high school to college.

“I was involved with young life in high school, so I would have really liked it if there was a young life on campus freshman year,” Leonard said. “It would have made me feel more comfortable since it was familiar.”