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Cal Baptist students jostle over pro-war resolution

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP)–For once, a group of university students passed a pro-war resolution. There was only one snag: Their action was unconstitutional.

California Baptist University students recently received a lesson in debate, war and government when their student government passed a resolution in support of the war against Iraq. But one day later, the student body’s judicial court ruled it unconstitutional — at least, unconstitutional according to the student government’s constitutional and bylaws.

“We just felt that in these times it would be a great way to show our encouragement and support to our president and our troops,” said student body president Dustin Hobbs, 22, one of the resolution’s supporters. “[We believed] it would be a constructive way to do that.”

The school’s student government is a parallel of the U.S. government, with an executive council, senate and judicial board serving as a sort of checks and balances.

The resolution was born when the executive committee — headed by Hobbs — authored and passed by a 5-0 vote a resolution supporting President Bush, the Iraqi policy and military personnel.

On March 17 the senate debated the resolution more than 90 minutes before passing it 12-10.

But on March 18, the school’s judicial board ruled it unconstitutional, saying that “this type of political advocacy is not the intention of the formation of the student government.”

“I do support the president, but my problem with it is that not all students at Cal Baptist do,” said senator Jennifer Bennett, 19, who voted against the resolution. “It was making an overarching statement.”

The joint resolution stated that the executive council and the senate “fully” support military personnel, the president and American allies. It also denounced “anti-U.S. efforts” of various United Nations Security Council members and pledged that the body would pray for the president, the troops and their family members.

“We know that there are a lot of schools that have passed anti-war resolutions,” Hobbs told Baptist Press. “We thought this would be a good way to counter that.”

Debate within the senate was “extremely heated,” Bennett said.

“It was an hour and a half debate,” she said. “Normally our debates are 20-30 minutes.”

But the debate was good for the school, Hobbs said. “What better way for college students to spend their free time than debating real issues and escaping the bubble that encases us and isolates us in our college years?”

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  • Michael Foust