This is an article I wrote back in 2008, but I thought it was relevant enough to repost. Enjoy!
WAVES: Prophets or pushers?
By Katherine Concepcion
At what point do the interests of the student body take precedence over the granted free exercise of a student club?
WAVES ministries is just one of the over 35 student-run organizations at Miami Dade College - Kendall campus. Their vague and seemingly innocuous one-line mission statement is printed on the Student Life website: “To provide an organizational atmosphere through which students can have an opportunity to worship God.”
Despite their good intentions, there have been several reported instances where WAVES affiliates have proselytized to students and faculty.
During the past two Club Rush events, Richard (no last name provided), the elderly father of the main non-faculty adviser for WAVES, has acted with hostility against the president and faculty adviser for MDC Secular Humanists, a campus student club devoted to promoting science, reason and the acceptance of Atheism.
At a recent event, Richard commenced verbal attacks on a student who was guarding the MDC Secular Humanists booth, but not himself a member of the club. When the president returned from his class, there was a stack of articles on the club table about the Archaeoraptor, a dinosaur fossil hoax that is cited by creationists as “proof” that birds did not evolve from dinosaurs. In fact, various other verified fossils linking the two species have been found, and birds and dinosaurs share more than 100 anatomical features and similar rates of bone growth. Richard lied to the student guarding the Secular Humanists booth, saying the articles belonged to the club president. When said club president returned and confronted Richard about the articles, he proceeded to act aloof about placing them at the table. Richard rounded out his Club Rush visit by shouting vitriolic non-sequitors into conversations between curious WAVES members and MDC Secular Humanists members.
WAVES ministries is affiliated with another college missionary group, Youth With A Mission (YWAM). On several occasions, members of YWAM have come on to the campus in an attempt to preach to students.
During one incident, two male students were having a conversation outside a classroom when a young, attractive girl who appeared to have been listening in, approached them and began making comments about the biology of the human body.
She claimed that it was “so amazing” how the human body functioned, how every part seemed to be “designed” and perfect, and cited an example of how the stomachs digestive juices amazingly did not disintegrate the organs in our bodies.
One student, who had a science background, gave an alternative reason why the acid isn’t corrosive to tissue, an explanation that did not involve the instance of a “creator.” Another, male individual got involved in the conversation, agreeing with the girl and eventually stating that dinosaurs were actually approximately 4,000 years old.
An argument soon began, and the pair, both members of YWAM in Orlando and not a registered MDC students, began to claim that the two guys were being “narrow-minded” and told them they should “think outside the box.”
The YWAM missionaries continued to pursue the argument and made antagonizing comments to the students until the students left for class.
It is unclear whether the visiting Richard or the YWAM members were cleared by student life. The student life handbook does not list clear rules or regulations for bringing club visitors on campus without a club event being held.
The antagonistic proselytizing and other related topics were discussed with the vice president of WAVES in a recent interview. When asked about the general purpose of WAVES, the vice president’s response indicated that their main and only intent was self-promotion. After given several opportunities to give examples of ways in which WAVES benefits the community, the vice president revealed that the club does not participate in community events, if they wanted to do that, he said, they "might as well just join a church." One opportunity that WAVES could have used to be part of something bigger than themselves was Relay for Life, an overnight event benefiting the American Cancer Society that will be held at this campus on the 28th of Feb. When asked about their possible participation at this event, the VP said that although WAVES considered being part of the event in order to raise funds for themselves, they did not have room in their calendar because of a retreat they planned to attend. Keep in mind, all the funds clubs raise at Relay for Life are to go to the American Cancer Society. When this fact was explained to the VP, he mistakingly recalled the Student Life Director saying clubs could keep a portion of the profits raised at the event for themselves.
The WAVES representative felt the need to clarify that WAVES was NOT a church, nor were they in the business of converting people on campus, but when asked a question regarding their “spreading of Christ’s word”, the VP said he believed all of the world’s people should accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior, but stopped short of saying that they should all convert to Christianity. Clearly, not a fine distinction between the two was made, and a disturbing disparity remains.
If we are to go by the vice president of the organization’s own words, the sole purpose of WAVES is missionary work- spreading the teachings they feel everyone should follow.
Should a club that provides no other service, either to students on campus or the community get funding or even be allowed to operate?
Other officers and members of WAVES were present when Richard was acting up at Club Rush. A responsible student organization would have acknowledged that his demeanor was giving their group a bad name and would have reprimanded him and told him to leave the premises or stop his behavior. Instead, the VP claimed that it was important to “respect your elders.”
After pondering the aforementioned questions, also ask yourselves: Should there be hard and fast rules for clubs to follow in terms of their mission? Should certain clubs be more regulated than others to ensure that no injurious pandering is being committed
While I realize this is an old article, it is still relevant enough for students of the same campus, or other universities. Individuals who are not particularly religious often have no problems with recalling incidents such as those listed above. Because of this, I thought to bring back the article in an attempt to create a dialogue. If you or a friend has dealt with similar issues on a college campus, please feel free to leave your comments here, or email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!