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Notre Dame won't recognize 'traditional marriage' student club

University of Notre Dame

A group of students at the University of Notre Dame advocating traditional marriage have been told their club won't be officially recognized by the school since its purpose mirrors that of other groups on campus. (Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

A student group at the University of Notre Dame advocating traditional marriage has been denied official recognition as a campus club at the iconic Catholic institution, although members vow to appeal the decision.

The group, Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), was rejected in an April 30 letter from the university’s Student Activities Office to Tiernan Kane, the club’s proposed president. The decision was based on a recommendation by the university’s Club Coordination Council, a division of student government, that found the club’s mission “closely mirrored” that of other undergraduate student clubs at the 12,000-student university.

“In evaluating a proposal, approval is based on several things,” read the letter to Kane. “We consider the general purpose of a club, uniqueness to campus, proposed activities, a clear constitution, a strong understanding of budget planning, projected membership, opportunity for membership, among other things.”

Due to the perceived duplicative mission of the group, SCOP’s proposal was rejected, according to the letter, which did not reference other university-recognized groups.

"We reject the view that the young have agreed to redefine marriage. Rather, we think that they have not explored the meaning and importance of marriage.”

- Students for Child-Oriented Policy

“As such, the Club Coordination Council felt there was not a need for another similar-type club,” the letter continued. “You are encouraged to contact the Club Coordination Council’s Social Service Division to learn about collaborating with the existing clubs working toward your mutual goals.”

SCOP, which was founded in January, is comprised of Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students focused on the debate about marriage in Indiana, where the school is based, according to its Facebook profile, which had 69 members as of Tuesday.

“SCOP's overarching concern is that policymakers are failing to approach their task with a view to how those policies will affect children,” the group’s Facebook page reads. “They seem to conceive of policy only as it will affect the stable, independent adult with resources. We see this approach affecting a number of important political issues, not just the current question about the definition of marriage. Still, marriage is both foundational and at a critical point in this state and country, and therefore, SCOP has decided to focus on the issue in its initial conference.”

The group seeks to unite a network of students across The Hoosier State in favor of “child-oriented policies,” according to its organizers.

“We reject the view that the young have agreed to redefine marriage,” the group’s Facebook page continues. “Rather, we think that they have not explored the meaning and importance of marriage.”

Messages seeking comment from Kane and other SCOP students were not returned early Tuesday.

Kane told The Cardinal Newman Society he believes Notre Dame should take the lead on marriage, much like it did in publicly voicing its support for the Dream Act and other controversial topics.

“The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage, which is universally intelligible to human reason, is informed by a tradition of philosophical reflection that reaches back at least as far as Plato,” he said. “As the nation's premier Catholic university, Notre Dame has the ability, and thus the responsibility, to contribute to -- indeed, to lead -- public discourse about marriage.”

A petition created by the group calling on Notre Dame to “take up the defense of marriage at this pivotal moment in the national discussion” had 948 signatures as of Tuesday.

“We understand marriage to be that natural institution that unites one man and one woman in a comprehensive sharing of life ‘ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring,’” the petition reads.

Timothy Bradley, another SCOP member, indicated that the group is undergoing an appeal process in hopes of reversing the decision.

Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown told FoxNews.com Tuesday that the denial due to it being redundant with another student group's mission is not unusual.

“SCOP is one of six proposed clubs whose applications were denied this spring, and 31 percent of club applications have been denied over the past five years, most for the same reason – duplication of purpose," he said. 

Brown said the group was encouraged to meet with the CCC to determine what could make their application be accepted next year. 

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