April 29, 2019

To the Trinity College Community,

As many of you now know, Trinity’s Student Government Association (SGA) has reviewed a proposal seeking SGA approval for the Churchill Club and has voted to deny it. We want to make clear that we appreciate how difficult this period has been and the dedication with which the SGA has deliberated this issue.

As an educational institution, we have an unshakable commitment to free expression and inquiry, open debate and discourse, and the valuing of all voices. It is the administration’s understanding that the group had met the requirements of the college and of SGA and should therefore have received SGA recognition.

In announcing its decision to students today, SGA noted correctly that the vote does not prevent the Churchill Club from organizing on campus. There may be some confusion about what SGA recognition means and, in turn, what a denial by SGA means. We want to take this opportunity to clarify that. The college’s policies regarding student groups give the Office of Student Activities, Involvement & Leadership (SAIL) the authority to review and recognize student organizations at the college. Earlier in the semester, SAIL reviewed and approved the application materials of the Churchill Club. As such, the club is an officially recognized student group at Trinity. College recognition of a student organization confers certain benefits, such as the ability to reserve college facilities and services, host events, and utilize campus communication channels. Such support of the Churchill Club is meant neither as an endorsement of any ideology, nor a rejection or marginalization of any population.

For those student groups that are interested in obtaining funding from the SGA, there is a second step of seeking recognition from SGA. SGA’s vote last night related to whether the club may seek funding from the Student Activities Fee, which the SGA manages.

What has been happening here at Trinity mirrors what we see across the country today—on so many college campuses and in seemingly every arena of our society. Today, we rededicate ourselves to and ask for our entire community’s partnership in continuing the complex work of creating a campus climate that is inclusive and welcoming to all. We must value differences and teach the skills to engage across them. Trinity can and must help advance understanding and bridge the divides within our society. Such work is at the heart of our mission and never more relevant.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience
and the President’s Cabinet