An attorney representing over 25 UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students recently wrote a letter to Associate Executive Vice Chancellor Rahim Reed and Chancellor Linda Katehi challenging the campus website’s definition of religious/spiritual discrimination.
The Principles of Community website linked to a glossary, which defined religious/spiritual discrimination as “the loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.”
Okay, we get it. This looks bad.
This definition implies Christians are the only group that can’t be discriminated against. It was a good thing that Reed removed the glossary the day he received the letter.
We applaud the university for its swift reaction to such a complaint. However, removing the glossary was only one step in fostering religious equality on campus.
University administrators now need to get moving. Redefine religious/spiritual discrimination and repost the glossary with the new definition. Students need to be cognizant of the definition, especially in light of hate crimes that have occurred on campus over the past few years.
A suggestion for reworking the definition would be to not single out any group. Any religious group can be the victim or the oppressor. For this reason the definition should include all those with any religion or a lack thereof.
Conceivably, the definition should be as simple as treating anybody differently based on his or her religion. Whatever the definition may be, even if it is a generic one that treats all groups equally, the university needs to redefine the term promptly. A subject this sensitive on campus should not go unaddressed.