Community college applicant alleges he was rejected because of religious beliefs


#1

A prospective student at the Community College of Baltimore County sued school officials in federal court this week, contending that he was denied admission to an academic program based on an expression of his religious beliefs.

Brandon Jenkins, who is being represented by the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, said in the lawsuit that when asked what was most important to him during an interview with CCBC officials as part of the application process last spring, he responded: “My God.”

Shortly afterward, he was denied admission into the radiation therapy program, and he asked the program coordinator for an explanation in an email.

baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/blog/bs-md-ccbc-lawsuit-20140423,0,7227364.story


#2

The school’s email response regarding his religion was inappropriate since his history of drugs and arrests (therefore being unlikely to get a job in the medical field) is more than reason enough.


#3

By far, the comments made about his religion were way out of line; however, so are the comments about this person’s criminal past. It is most likely unlawful to inquire about any criminal past unless such inquiry is directly related to the job function. (( Lawful and Unlawful Interview Questions )) Even obtaining a background check can place an employer in hotwater unless it is obtained for all employees and the employer can PROVE that they are not using any of the protected status information in their hiring process - either directly or via third party (it wont take much of a Google to find case law on this). Therefor, even with the criminal background, the school is walking a very thin line. I hope they lose.


#4

“I understand that religion is a major part of your life and that was evident in your recommendation letters, however, this field is not the place for religion,” wrote program director Adrienne Dougherty. “We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing. If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.”

An incredibly foolish and illegal thing for the “program director” to say.


#5

I think it was appropriate for the program to reject a candidate who says he’s applying at the behest of God. I have no doubt God and religion are vital to Mr. Jenkins, just as I have no doubt that honoring God is central to a good many physicians, nurses, pathologists, and others working in medicine. But those responsible for training radiation therapists are looking for candidates who can articulate more concrete or tangible reasons for wanting to help people living with cancer.

Not to mention the fact that it’s in the best interest of the program to graduate therapists who will be able to find employment in the field. According to the article, Mr. Jenkins wouldn’t likely be able to find employment as a radiation therapist given his background.


#6

The program director should have just left it with the “other applicants had higher grade-point averages” comment. There was really nothing else to add; otherwise the learning institution is revealing its own religious bias or anti-bias.


#7

I knew I wanted to be a Chemist from the age of 5
When asked why at that age, I said, because I feel it in my heart.
When my professors at the university asked me why I wanted to be a Chemist, I said because I have had a calling to be one since the age of 5.
Now I understand that it was God’s will.

So, Luna, should I have been dismissed from the Chemistry program, think of the harm and the good I can do with just the little bit of chemical knowledge I posess, just because with an exceptinally high IQ, reading on graduate level since I was about 12, and I couldn’t give a better answer during the oral interview better than: “because I’ve always wanted to be one since I was 5, sort of a calling if one will.” (yep, I choked in the interview - 18 and thought I knew it all, until 4 PhDs were sitting at the table across from me, all by myself).

I was an agnostic then; however, I knew that being a Chemist was what I was ment to be… I have an intutive knowledge of Chemistry, often arriving at an answer, not by the math or the theory, but because I “know” the answer and can then prove the answer if asked to do so.

No, being called by God should never be the sole reason one is shoved out the door nor should ones past mistakes be held forever against one.

Luna, let us hope that our Police, Firemen, Doctors, Teachers, Nuns, and Priests are not treated so badly just because they felt “called” to the profession.


#8

“I understand that religion is a major part of your life and that was evident in your recommendation letters, however, this field is not the place for religion,” wrote program director Adrienne Dougherty. “We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing. If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.”

The director didn’t cite anything you mentioned as to why he wasn’t accepted into the program. What the director did cite was how the field “is not the place for religion” and how he should lie in the future by “leaving your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.” Apparently integrity is not a necessary requirement in this portion of the medical field.


#9

I read the letter, too.

The part about radiation technology not being a place for religion is inappropriate, but there’s nothing else there I disagree with. Someone in this field is going to be serving people who range from deeply religious to openly hostile to religion, and it is for the best not to cite God as the reason for wanting into a medical program during an admissions interview. That’s not to say God doesn’t call people to do these types of jobs, but simply an acknowledgement that admissions committees are generally looking for, as I said, more tangible, concrete reasons for wanting to enter academic programs.

None of us was part of the intereview, so none of us can say what Mr. Jenkins did or didn’t say about God. But we do know it was mentioned in his letters of recommendation that his religion is a big part of his life, so it’s not a stretch to assume he talked of God quite bit. And depending on what he said, it’s reasonable to conclude that the admissions committee members felt he would have a hard time serving people who didn’t see God in the same way he does.

Personal integrity has everything to do with practicing medicine. Discretion and diplomacy have their places, too.


#10

Wait you have 4 PhDs?


#11

-You state none of us were at the interview then go on into assumptions that he talked about God quite a bit during it. The only mention we have of what went on in the interview was that his response to the question of what is most important to him was God.
-“it’s reasonable to conclude that the admissions committee members felt he would have a hard time serving people who didn’t see God in the same way he does.” does not equate to “this field is not the place for religion.”


#12

What would be an acceptable reason? Why would religious motivation exclude that?

I do not agree that a government funded school should be doing this. Would the school also be justified in turning away a woman because it didn’t think she could be hired within the state? Would the school be justified in turning down a student because he or she is black? Would the school be justified, on similar grounds, for turning away a student because he or she was Iranian or Arab?

The school has an interest in selecting students who can complete the program and achieve a license from the state. Whether a local business will hire the graduate is not the school’s call. That is a matter between the graduate and a prospective employer.

Perhaps counseling him as a student, rather than flatly rejecting him, would have been a wiser decision.


#13

#14

Although the school’s remarks were unappropriate, the fact the person is going to be working with sick individuals in areas where there could be drugs on the floors, I think they had every right to deny his application. Programs have rules, specific criteria and in most cases are extremely competitive. If the individual doesn’t get in, they just have to accept it. They can always apply to other similar programs, or reapply to the same program another year. In his case, he might want to see if he qualifies to have his police record pardoned.

Furthermore, suing the school is academic suicide because no school regardless of the program will want him part their the faculty because he could be seen as a trouble maker. Sometimes one just needs to accept the loss and try something else.

There are reasons when some doors don’t open.


#15

Why? Because academics believe that those who are religious are all closed minded bigots?


#16

I would never, ever deny someone a job or entry into a program because of their religious beliefs or practices.

However, if religion is evident in their letters of recommendation and a cornerstone if their interview to the point that it’s cited as the reason to want to go into radiology, some serious doubts would be raised in my mind.

It’s not even that I would necessarily say to myself that I don’t want them there. It’s that a lot of applicants would have given better responses and shown themselves to be more well rounded.


#17

It is sad how what used to be seen as a positive trait is now seen as an impediment. The idea that some one who is God centered is somehow lacking in empathy for Cancer patients is specious.


#18

Our Church profoundly disagrees with you:

2472 The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.269 (863, 905, 1807)

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.270


#19

His drug use was never mentioned in the rejection letter. He was told clearly and simply that he was rejected because of his faith. In fact he was given advice to NOT talk about God in future interviews.


#20

From their actions as reported in this story, it could be argued that the admissions committee concluded that Mr. Jenkins was not a good fit for their rad tech program. I don’t know what members of this committee feel about all people with religious faith based on what I’ve read.

It would appear that the admissions committee was not swayed by Mr. Jenkins’s witness. Perhaps he’ll be more successful witnessing through his lawsuit against the community college. One can only live in hope.


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