De-ratification of religious campus club prompts concerns over USSU policy

By   —   February 27, 2020   —   in News

The religious-based campus club Power to Change has been de-ratified because of complaints over disruption and concerns about the inclusion and comfort of students. 

Although there have been previous complaints about the group, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union decided to de-ratify Power to Change mid-February over two specific complaints this year: one regarding a meeting the club had in September and one about an event they held in January. 

The USSU executive did not share the exact content of the complaints aside from the general topic of student discomfort and social disruption. 

The Power to Change executive team declined an interview. However, in a Facebook message to the Sheaf, a Power to Change representative wrote that the group is “extremely saddened” to be handed a de-ratification as it has a “wide impact” on their activities.

“We feel [like] we, along with other clubs on campus, play a vital role in supporting and serving the campus community,” the message reads. 

They say they will be filing an official appeal on the USSU’s decision.

Jamie Bell, USSU vice­president operations and finance, says that between when the complaint was issued in January, to the second, Power to Change implemented some changes but continued to receive complaints.

“In the communication that I had with them, I [noted] that if we did receive another complaint, the budget and finance committee did have the option to implement regulatory action,” Bell said. 

Other religious groups have reportedly also received complaints. Bell says that the de­ratification of Power to Change would not affect any other group or policy. While the USSU recently began a revision of their campus club policy, Bell says that the current review is unrelated and only for clarity.

“We are just cognisant of what kind of activities are being held on campus, regardless of religious affiliation. And both the university and the USSU are investigating campus club activity just to make sure that the campus is safe for students,” Bell said.

Power to Change is taking the option to appeal the decision and Bell says that he is in talks with the group’s leadership to facilitate the process. 

Bell says that the USSU is inclusive and encouraging of all campus groups and assures that the de-ratification of Power to Change has nothing to do with religious affiliation.

“We’re actually one of the most inclusive [students’ unions], with our regulations on … what kind of clubs we do accept for ratification,” Bell said.

Wardah Anwar

Photo: Riley Deacon

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