The Evangelical Union (EU) will not be deregistered, with the University of Sydney Union (USU) deciding at its April Board meeting to amend clubs and societies (C&S) regulations to allow faith-based declarations as a condition of membership.
The decision was handed down at a Monday morning meeting attended by representatives from the USU, EU and other faith-based societies. It comes after weeks of discussions between the organisations, and the provision of independent legal advice by the University.
In a joint media statement, the USU said “the Board has listened to its members and acknowledges the importance of such declarations to some of our faith based clubs and societies.”
“The Board will collaborate with the faith based clubs on campus over the next week to seek their full assent before putting any changes to the C&S regulations to the C&S Committee.”
EU President George Bishop welcomed the USU’s decision, saying “the EU is very happy and thankful that the Board has heard our concerns and acted collaboratively to reach this resolution.”
“We’re very happy that we’ll be able to remain a group of Christian who affirm that Jesus Christ is Lord”.
The deregistration of the EU came to a head in March, when the USU issued an ultimatum for the removal of contentious clauses 3.2(i) and 3.4 from the religious organisation’s constitution. The clauses stipulated members must sign a statement that they “desire in joining the EU to declare my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour, my Lord and my God”.
The USU will now consult with faith-based societies on campus, with a view to formalising faith-based declarations in C&S regulations. A “Faith Roundtable” has also been proposed to “promote greater interfaith and intercultural understanding and to ensure that the voices of faith based groups are heard at the highest level of student governance.”
The backtrack represents the USU’s second in as many working days, after it repealed the 10-events-per-semester funding policy for C&S on Friday.
USU President Alisha Aitken-Radburn said “it’s just the nature of student governance and representation, we’re always negotiating different perspectives to reach the best possible resolution.”