Group denied registration SU says IMPACT violates Constitution

Student Life (Washington University)/October 30, 1990
By Michelle Bushlow

Student Union denied registration Sunday to IMPACT, a Bible study group which is affiliated with the St Louis Church of Christ.

According to SU Speaker Eric Schwartzman, the group was denied registration because the Assembly deemed it in violation of a constitutional clause which states that "No registered group may explicitly or implicitly advocate acts of cruelty towards other individuals or groups, nor advocate the violation of any individual's civil rights."

According to IMPACT member Brian Cochrane, the group has been trying to register since the beginning of the semester. The issue then was whether IMPACT differed markedly from other registered Bible study groups.

After IMPACT revealed its connection with the St Louis Church of Christ, however, the issue became whether IMPACT was a "cult" group, and whether there were something in the SU Constitution barring it from becoming a registered group.

Kurt Wooten, chair of the Student Group Activities Committee, said that SU received IMPACT's application about a month and a half ago, but that there was no differential treatment. Wooten said that SU usually goes through two applications a week and that SGAC considered IMPACT's as soon as they came to it.

Much of Sunday's debate was devoted to determining if IMPACT was actually a cult.

The term "cult" was clarified by the Student Group Activities Committee as a group which tries to restrict an individual's knowledge of the group while controlling his or her behavior, emotions and time.

Kurt Wooten, chair of SGAC, presented information from sources such as the Cult Hotline and argued that the St Louis Church of Christ is indeed a cult. According to Wooten's information, cults are known to brainwash their members and condemn those who want to exit. SU representatives who opposed admitting IMPACT cited these as cruel practices which deny civil liberties, and therefore conflict with the SU Constitution.

Members of IMPACT denied that the group withholds information from or attempts to control ts members. And they asserted that their standards come strictly out of the Bible and are not arbitrarily made.

Cochrane attributes much of the ill will towards IMPACT largely to a previous Student Life article, which he said was false hysteria. "Nothing it said has anything to do with me or the group," Cochrane said.

IMPACT was motivated to become a registered campus group solely in order to gain recognition and acceptance as an exclusive group. They did not seek money or space from SU, according to Cochrane.

While there were some members of the SU who thought denying IMPACT the right to register was a breach of freedom of religion, they were clearly the minority as the final vote count was 4-22.

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