Club UNITY gets approval from Abare

By Brittany Hackett |

After being denied by Student Services last month, the proposal for Club UNITY has now been approved on appeal by Flagler President William T. Abare, Jr.

Chris Lauth, Club UNITY’s executive director, said it’s “wonderful” to finally have official club status on campus. The club’s focus is to “create a safe and supportive environment” for gay and lesbian students, and promote unity regardless of sexual orientation.

“It’s a relief,” Lauth said. “A lot of us are that much happier with Flagler. We went from feeling kind of pushed aside, not feeling validated as students, second-class students, to now feeling as if we’re in the crowd.”

Lauth received news of the approval through a voice mail from a friend and a letter from Abare, stating the club’s new status, was in his campus mailbox the next day.

“He’s [Abare] done a great thing,” Lauth said. “We know all of the pressures the president of a college feels on a daily basis, and so for him to stand up to this and make the right decision and do what we believe is right shows a lot.”

Abare was not available for comment as of press time. But in the approval letter to Lauth, Abare said: “After careful review of your appeal of the decision to deny approval of Club Unity, I have decided to approve your request and hereby notify you that I will authorize the establishment of Club Unity as an official student organization.”

Lauth said the next step for Club UNITY is to have regular meetings with the rest of the officers. Officer positions for the club’s Leadership Board include Lauth as executive director, Amy Hamilton as assistant director and Jessica Dalton as administrative director.

The club also has a development team, which includes Artistic Director Javaria Afghani, New Member and PR Director Nick Michalski and Events Coordinator Kimberly Carton. Professor Joe Vlah, director of the social behavioral sciences department, is the club’s faculty adviser.

According to Lauth, Club UNITY will not begin holding events until next semester. In the proposal for Club UNITY, activities such as movie nights, forums and community service activities were listed as possible options for events.

In 2004 a similar club, the Gay-Straight Alliance, was proposed and rejected in October of that year. Club UNITY was proposed in the spring of 2007 and passed through SGA in October.

Student Services announced its decision to deny Club UNITY status on Oct. 9. According to the official denial letter written by Dean of Student Services Dan Stewart, the “purpose [of the club] does not fall within the realm of the mission of the college.” Club UNITY’s proposal was then sent to Abare for a presidential appeal.

“The school recognizes us and it’s just a wonderful feeling,” Lauth said. “We’re very happy and praising President Abare for the decision and the College as well.”

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