CASJ returns after review

After being temporarily closed and put under review for three months when the definition between students employed by the University and student activism on campus became blurred, the Community Action and Social Justice, formerly under the Kay Spiritual Life Center, is planning on reopening as a student-run coalition under Student Activities.

The application to become a coalition is in its final stages, according to junior Andrew Willis, who has been with the organization since last fall and who has worked as a chaplain's assistant for a year. He plans on submitting the final draft of the constitution, which he and the three other CASJ co-facilitators plan on submitting to Student Activities early this week.

Formed in the 1960s, the CASJ office allowed AU chaplains a vehicle to council draft objectors of the Vietnam War. It grew into a spiritual-based collecting point for activism on campus, and was shut down pending a review when complaints that University funds were being used to further a political agenda.

The CASJ Coalition mission and constitution will be very much like the unwritten one of its past, Willis said. The draft explains that the coalition "seeks to be a model for the world we wish to live in, a community based upon tolerance, respect, mutual aid, solidarity and sharing a diversity of ideas and causes. As individuals we seek and encourage others to embody the change we wish to see [in] the world at large."

While there is no specific structure for a coalition constitution, it will outline a collective purpose, scope, membership and governing structures, as well as comply with Student Activities and University policy, Director of Student Activities Karen Gerlach said. While a formal application process does not yet exist for coalitions, one is in the works, she said.

The CASJ controversy, which came to light mid-semester, raised the ethical issue of what activities are appropriate for University-funded employees, especially students, to partake in.

"The question is, what kind of codes should people who are employed by the University operate under?" University Chaplain Joe Eldridge said.

The three-month review resulted in a more formalized, standard practice within the Office of Campus Life. A formal job description and an understanding of confidentiality and conflicts of interest in the form of a signed agreement can now be found within all the departments of the office, Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson said.

While there may not be much grey area in many jobs students take, since many of them are clerical in nature, there are some where it wasn't as clear Hanson said.

"In an office such as CASJ...the job description was very general and it wasn't enough to help distinguish between what they can do as an employee and what they should do as a student organizer or leader," Hanson said.

The Eagle reported in April that the office was closed following complaints that there was "inappropriate advancement of some social causes of some students at the expense of others,"

Tension built between some members of AU Jewish students organizations and CASJ, which was then operating as a satellite organization under the University Chaplain, when CASJ co-sponsored a forum titled "Voices of Solidarity from Palestine" last fall. Other events where also coordinated, such as the Stop U.S. Tax Aid to Israel Now (SUSTAIN), which student leaders of Jewish organizations also found offensive.

Contrary to a report by the Washington Post on Sunday, CASJ did not sponsor the National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR) in January. The AU Animal Rights Effort, AWARE, sponsored it, although three of the four co-facilitators were involved in the conference.

Three days before the U.S. war with Iraq began, fliers announcing a CASJ-sponsored "Emergency Anti-war Meeting," appeared throughout campus.

"We don't feel like we did anything wrong at all," Willis said. "We made a mistake, at least one of us put CASJ contact information on the antiwar flier, that wasn't the greatest thing to do. It was a mistake, people make mistakes."

While the CASJ Coalition will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the University Chaplain, they will continue to work with Eldridge and other chaplains as advisors. The CASJ Coalition will continue to operate inside the Kay Spiritual Life Center, since the coalition "will convey a message of desire to advance social justice that is rooted in a spiritual understanding of the way," Eldridge said.

The CASJ Coalition will be the second coalition on campus, Gerlach said, and will be modeled after the four-year old Ethnic and Cultural Coalition, which was created to "advocate for the needs of traditionally marginalized students on campus," she said. Coalitions make the fourth branch or student organizations under Student Activities, which also include student government, student media and student clubs.

Coalitions are formed when clubs and organizations come together to pool resources, and the CASJ will comprise of about a dozen, Willis said. Coalitions make up the fourth student organization branch under Student Activities, which also include student government bodies, media organizations and clubs, Gerlach said. Unlike a club, however, a coalition is not directly funded by Student Activity Fee funds, but rather indirectly through the clubs that they are affiliated with and through fundraising.

"One of the biggest issues has been awareness or what we do and how we are there to serve students," Willis said. "There is a misunderstanding about what CASJ is."

Willis said that the coalition plans to grow along the lines of students who want to affect changes on campus and in the community over the next year, and to expand its base of support.

zations also found offensive.

Contrary to a report by the Washington Post on Sunday, CASJ did not sponsor the National Conference on Organized Resistance (NCOR) in January. The AU Animal Rights Effort, AWARE, sponsored it, although three of the four co-facilitators were involved in the conference.

Three days before the U.S. war with Iraq began, fliers announcing a CASJ-sponsored "Emergency Anti-war Meeting," appeared throughout campus.

"We don't feel like we did anything wrong at all," Willis said. "We made a mistake, at least one of us put CASJ contact information on the antiwar flier, that wasn't the greatest thing to do. It was a mistake, people make mistakes."

While the CASJ Coalition will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the University Chaplain, they will continue to work with Eldridge and other chaplains as advisors. The CASJ Coalition will continue to operate inside the Kay Spiritual Life Center, since the coalition "will convey a message of desire to advance social justice that is rooted in a spiritual understanding of the way," Eldridge said.

The CASJ Coalition will be the second coalition on campus, Gerlach said, and will be modeled after the four-year old Ethnic and Cultural Coalition, which was created to "advocate for the needs of traditionally marginalized students on campus," she said. Coalitions make the fourth branch or student organizations under Student Activities, which also include student government, student media and student clubs.

Coalitions are formed when clubs and organizations come together to pool resources, and the CASJ will comprise of about a dozen, Willis said. Coalitions make up the fourth student organization branch under Student Activities, which also include student government bodies, media organizations and clubs, Gerlach said. Unlike a club, however, a coalition is not directly funded by Student Activity Fee funds, but rather indirectly through the clubs that they are affiliated with and through fundraising.

"One of the biggest issues has been awareness or what we do and how we are there to serve students," Willis said. "There is a misunderstanding about what CASJ is."

Willis said that the coalition plans to grow along the lines of students who want to affect changes on campus and in the community over the next year, and to expand its base of support.

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