The California State University (CSU) System has disassociated the Christian group InterVarsity Christian Fellowship from all campuses for requiring its aspiring leaders to sign a statement affirming their belief in God.
Disassociated means the club is no longer officially recognized or connected to the campus.
InterVarsity’s loss of official recognition with its respective university has more consequences than simply being unrecognized.
It also loses the privilege to participate in student fairs and its free access to rooms on campus, national InterVarsity spokesman Greg Jao said.
“Students, faculty and other student groups have said very loud and clear we do not want this group as part of our campus community,” Jao said. “We are caught in this mental conundrum.”
Adam Loveridge, Cal Poly alumnus and team leader of Cal Poly’s InterVarsity chapter, says the chapter is currently in limbo. The final status of the club is pending on a meeting with the Dean of Students this past Monday.
“We are operating under the assumption that after that meeting, we won’t be recognized,” Loveridge said.
The chapter can officially rejoin the university if it changes the requirement to sign the statement. But the chapter has no plans to revise its policies.
“We think it makes sense for us as a religious group,” Loveridge said. “Anyone who is leading that religious group should believe what that religious group is practicing.”
InterVarsity’s refusal to sign a general nondiscrimination statement for leadership positions will become a costly matter.
“For the club to operate outside the system, at minimum, would cost [approximately] $16,000 a year,” Loveridge said.
The cost to organize an event at Cal Poly is $575 alone, he said. The club must also take into account its weekly Monday night meeting room reservations.
Jao is continuing to negotiate with the CSU system about the club nondiscrimination requirement.
“We are still trying to figure out a way to communicate with the Chancellor and invite him to reconsider,” he said. “We are looking at all our options of how to change the underlying law.”
He anticipates the students at Cal Poly will acknowledge the importance of being able to choose leaders who reflect the purpose of a group.
“We hope that other student groups will recognize what a misguided policy this is and how it directly affects them. If not in practice, then in principal.”
Landscape architecture junior Krista Yost supported InterVarsity’s decision to require those in leadership roles to affirm their belief of the Bible.
“It is a Christian club, so it should be run by Christian members,” Yost said.
Biology senior Cathy Gibson had a different opinion.
“You shouldn’t discriminate based on religion,” Gibson said.
To Gibson, if a student knew enough about the Christian faith but was of a different religion, they should still be allowed to run for a leadership position since they would have enough knowledge to be an effective club leader.
Prior to the ruling, InterVarsity was planning on participating in the Week of Welcome club showcase. Since the club renewed membership with Cal Poly last October, it was allowed to be a part of the showcase as an official club, Loveridge said.
“We had all our leaders together and talked about this reality coming down the pipeline. We were determined to press on anyway,” Loveridge said.
InterVarsity president Abigail Johnson says the club will continue to love and value the whole campus despite the situation.
“We are going to do everything we can to continue accepting people and welcoming them into our group, even if we are not recognized,” Johnson said.
GUYS, Open Membership.
What about the similar organizations such as CRU? Why are these sanctions not being applied to all of the groups?
If they aren’t being applied yet to these other groups, they probably soon will be. No belief or merit-based student group is safe.
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