Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy says he plans to make a decision by the end of the week on a proposed chaplain position within the athletics department. The ISU Athletic Council recommended the creation of a voluntary “Life Skills Assistant,” position, with strict prohibitions on pressuring students to participate in religious activities.
President Geoffroy says that may not be enough to ease concerns. Geoffrey says, “I think one of the greatest fears that has been raised in the minds of a number of people, including Iowa State University faculty, is that a person appointed to this position would be championing one religion, or one belief system over others.”
The issue arose after Cyclone Football Coach Gene Chizik requested a team chaplain. Some Iowa State faculty members submitted a petition opposing the chaplain position on the grounds of separation of church and state. President Geoffroy says similar services already exist, but student athletes face unique circumstances. He says student athletes face unusual demands and are in the public eye far more than other students, which leads to pressures other students don’t receive.
This week, the ISU Athletic Council recommended allowing a voluntary “Life Skills Assistant,” with strict prohibitions on pressuring students to participate in religious activities. Their role would be to connect students with existing faith communities on campus.