Wayne State University’s guidelines that all student groups — including religious groups — allow students to be part of a group’s leadership team, even if those students don’t believe the same as the group, should be struck down, religious liberty advocacy attorneys will argue in federal court Wednesday.
The court appearance is part of an ongoing battle between Wayne State and the local chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
The matter began in 2017, when the university started a new online registration system for student organizations. InterVarsity, which has had a Wayne State chapter for 75 years, filled out the form and uploaded the group’s constitution.
The constitution says InterVarsity welcomes all students, regardless of religious beliefs, as members, but asks that student leadership embrace its religious mission.
Then in October 2017, the chapter’s leadership was informed that its recognition was being stripped because “the constitution’s requirement that leaders share the chapter’s faith was inconsistent with the school’s nondiscrimination code.”
The decision meant InterVarsity was no longer able to reserve free meeting rooms, host free tables for interested students, apply for funding available to recognized student groups, or receive any other benefits granted to student groups, according to the suit. InterVarsity continued to meet on campus, but had tp pay $100 each time to rent a room while they weren’t a recognized student organization.
In March 2018, InterVarsity sued, claiming Wayne State couldn’t put restrictions on it. Days after the lawsuit was filed, Wayne State relented and reinstated InterVarsity, assuming that would be the end of the matter.
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