Life skills assistant approved, volunteer to be evaluated yearly

James Heggen

ISU President Gregory Geoffroy has approved the creation of the position of a volunteer life skills assistant for the ISU football team.

In a written statement to Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, Geoffroy said he has approved the proposal by the ISU athletics council, with a few clarifications added.

Geoffroy wrote that the person who fills the position would only be a volunteer, and not receive “any state, university, athletic, or ISU Foundation funds.”

Geoffroy also wrote in his clarifications that the person who fills the position cannot promote a religion or religious viewpoint, and cannot pressure or coerce any student-athlete to participate in religious activity, or choose “religion over non-religion.”

Another clarification Geoffroy made was that the person must assist student-athletes of all beliefs and help those with different beliefs find other resources when asked to do so.

The final clarification was that the person holding the position must adhere to the university’s nondiscrimination policy.

Geoffroy wrote that the university must not be perceived to be promoting a certain religious faith or viewpoint.

Geoffroy also wrote that the person in the position will be evaluated every year for effectiveness and value. The student-athlete responses will be assessed by Paula Morrow, university professor of management, and Iowa State’s faculty athletics representative.

In another written statement, Pollard thanked Geoffroy and the athletics council for allowing for the position. He also thanked the faculty and staff that had expressed concern.

“Their concerns were the basis of the guidelines that were established to ensure the interests and rights of all student-athletes are protected,” he wrote.

Pollard wrote that the athletics department will make sure the guidelines are followed.

“We have a very solid framework to guide this volunteer’s activities and the mechanisms to review their activities annually,” he wrote.

William David, university professor of music and co-author of the petition opposing a chaplain position, said what Geoffroy has recommended is not what the council recommended, or what Pollard proposed.

He said he thought it was more restrictive.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that our concerns have been addressed,” he said.

David said the statement by Geoffroy reads like the compromise that he and others opposing a team chaplain had proposed.

That compromise was to appoint a counselor from counseling services for a year and encourage the person to do religious referrals. After a year, this arrangement would be evaluated.

David also said members from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Civil Liberties Union, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation have all been monitoring the situation, and he and others who opposed having a chaplain will continue to keep those groups posted and guessed that these members would continue to monitor the situation.