E-mail from Associate Protestant Chaplain Allen Callahan to OCRL Director Janet Cooper Nelson, September 13, 2006

From: Allen Callahan
Sent: 9/13/2006 12:51 PM
To: Cooper Nelson, Janet
Cc: [e-mail addresses redacted]
Subject: Re: suspension of campus recognition for Reformed University Fellowship


Rev. Sherwood’s note to you presents several fundamental misunderstandings on his part. At no time have I ever indicated to Rev. Sherwood or anyone else, that RUF is “a recognized student organization”: if this was “assumed” in the course of our conversation yesterday, the assumption was Rev. Sherwood’s and Rev. Sherwood’s alone. That RUF is not in good standing with OCRL means, a fortiori, that RUF cannot “continue as a recognized student organization.” In point of fact, RUF has not been “a recognized student organization” since the fall of last year, due to the failure of RUF’s then advisor and associate on Rev. Sherwood’s staff, Rev. Eric Molicki, to submit the required paperwork for the renewal of his Religious Life Affiliate status with the University.

I explained this failure on Rev. Molicki’s part and its unhappy ramifications to Rev. Sherwood yesterday in some detail. At no time in my conversation yesterday with Rev. Sherwood did I presume to comment upon the institutional relationship of Trinity Presbyterian Church and RUF. I met with Rev. Sherwood, at his request, to explain the actions of my office to him as RUF’s sponsor. In that conversation I made it clear to Rev. Sherwood that it is the judgment of my office that the irresponsibility of RUF’s leadership last year and this year has led OCRL to refuse to renew RUF Religious Life Affiliate status again this year. I also explained to him that under the leadership of Rev. Molicki and last year’s and now again this year’s student president Ethan Wingfield, RUF hs become possessed of a leadership culture of contempt and dishonesty that has rendered all colleagial relations with my office impossible. The RUF leadership’s repeated and willful failure to be respectful and transparent in its dealings with OCRL and other offices on campus has made RUF the topic of more meetings, e-mails, letters, and phone calls than all my other fifteen-odd Religious Life Affiliates combined. Such a disruptive and wasteful drain on the time, patience, and enenrgy of people on this campus — including the students involved in RUF, whom this office is duty-bound to protect — must be brought to an end, and in our meeting yesterday Rev. Sherwood led me to beleive that he and I were in agreement on that point.

I saw yesterday’s meeting as, among other things, an opportunity for Rev. Sherwood and Trinity Presbyterian Church to initiate a new relationship with the University, one in which my office could be confident that RUF’s sponsoring organization would do its part to insist that RUF abide by University standards of conduct. Lamentably, Rev. Sherwood has chosen instead to make of the meeting a point of reference for signaling to you and to the other addressees of his note his support of a campus student organization that, in its present illegitimate status, is unsupportable. The University has taken an action against a student organization for which Rev. Sherwood, as its sponsor, must take responsibility. But Rev. Sherwood’s note to you suggests that he is more concerned to protect privileges and prerogatives of a status that RUF, due to its own actions, forfeited last year: Rev. Sherwood apparently does not understand, my explanations nothwithstanding, that that forfeiture was an official fait accompli as of last spring. And lamentably, his message to you also suggests that my meeting with Rev. Sherwood yesterday fell far short of “a first step toward warmer and more cordial relations with all concerned.”

Schools: Brown University Cases: Brown University: Wrongful Suspension of Religious Student Group