Jewett Will Decide Fate of Bible Study

COCL Reaches Impasse on Christians in Action Proposal

The Committee on College Life (COCL) reached an impasse yesterday on the controversial proposal to grant University recognition to Christians in Action bible study group.

The committee's 10 members were deadlocked on whether or not to admit the group, which Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III has said lacks autonomy from the Boston Church of Christ.

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett, who chairs the COCL, will decide by Monday whether the University should recognize the group, which was organized by a number of students who are also members of the Boston Church of Christ.

"People feel very strongly [about the issue of recognition], and the split is down the middle and there's reasonable arguments on both sides," Jewett said. "It's a tough decision, not an easy call."

Critics of the church have said it uses cult-like tactics to recruit new members on college campuses.

Christians in Action first petitioned for University recognition last October, opening a rift between student and faculty members of the committee. Yesterday all five student members voted for recognition of the group, while the five faculty members and administrators voted against the measure.

Jewett said he is looking for a way to allow recognition of the group and to satisfy faculty and administration concerns.

"I want to take a little more time to see if there are any procedural safeguards that satisfy the faculty and permit the group's approval for a probationary period," Jewett said. "If there is a way, yes, I'd approve the group on a probationary status, but that's a big if."

Extra time is needed because the issue of recognition is so divisive, Jewett said.

"I have to consider the fact that the studentsare united and the faculty and administration isequally unified," Jewett said.

The inconclusive vote followed heated debate atthe 8 a.m. COCL meeting.

Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III voicedstrong opposition to the group, claiming Churchmembers of the bible study continue to harassstudents.

"[I object to] the means they have adopted torecruit members on campus," Epps said. "This lastyear, two specific complaints were made," he said."What those complaints show is conduct that stepsover the line and is harassment."

In a stirring rebuttal, Michael J. Hrnicek '96,the group's president and a COCL member,maintained that he has never aggressivelyrecruited students on campus and argued that theChurch's beliefs should not be questioned.

"The student recognition process should becontent blind," Hrnicek said. "If students believeit is appropriate to have a bible study on campus,run by students for students, then I believewholeheartedly [in it]."