SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Christian student groups in the California State University system that were stripped of official recognition last year for requiring their leaders to be Christian have now regained their rights following a reversal of the decision.
As previously reported, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which identifies as an “evangelical campus mission,” lost recognition last fall at 23 schools across the state over the decision, which is based on the system’s anti-discrimination policies.
“Loss of recognition means we lose three things: free access to rooms (this will cost our chapters $13k-30k/year to reserve a room). We also lose access to student activities programs, including the new student fairs where we meet most students. We also lose standing when we engage faculty, students and administrators,” spokesperson Greg Jao told reporters.
The de-recognition of InterVarsity came as a result of an executive order that was put into effect in 2011, which states, “No campus shall recognize any fraternity, sorority, living group, honor society or other student organization that discriminates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation or disability.” It also outlines that the ban on discrimination extends to leadership positions.
“For an organization to be recognized, they must sign a general nondiscrimination policy,” Mike Uhlencamp, director of public affairs for the California State University system, additionally explained to the Washington Post. “We have engaged with [InterVarsity] for the better part of a year and informed them they would have to sign a general nondiscrimination statement. They have not.”
Because the group wouldn’t sign the statement, which would essentially allow non-Christians to lead InterVarsity chapters on campus, it was stripped of official recognition. However, in a press release issued on Friday, InterVarsity announced that the decision has now been reversed.
“Following substantive and cordial ongoing conversations, CSU clarified the intent and reach of Executive Order 1068,” said Jim Lundgren. “We are confident we can choose leaders who are qualified to lead InterVarsity’s witnessing communities throughout the Cal State system.”
He explained that while the group will maintain its right to choose leaders that align with the Christian faith, the meetings themselves will be open to all students.
“InterVarsity’s Christian faith compels us to welcome all people,” Lundgren outlined. “We support CSU in its commitment to serve the diversity of students on its campuses. In fact, InterVarsity communities are some of the most diverse groups on Cal State’s campuses.”
“At the same time, we maintain our commitment to provide campus communities that are clearly Christian, where all students can experience and learn more about Christian community, theology, and practice,” he continued.”We’re grateful for this development and are looking forward to continued ministry on CSU campuses.”
InterVarsity notes that while the resolution involves California State campuses, other issues remain unresolved in the state, as well as in other states, such as New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Florida.