Christian student group sues Wayne State University over loss of status

Posted: 10:54 AM, Mar 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-08 23:12:08Z

A student group that follows Christianity is suing Wayne State University after it lost its status as a campus organization.

InterVarsity says it's a victim of discrimination after serving Wayne State students for decades. The lawsuit in Detroit federal court says the university took action last fall after learning that the group's leaders are required to embrace Christianity.

Wayne State released this statement to 7 Action News:

Wayne State University values student groups as an integral part of campus life and co-curricular learning. We strive to foster student groups that are inclusive, diverse, and expand student experiences. After a review of the situation and communicating with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship organization, Wayne State has decided to recertify the group as an official student organization.

The InterVarsity student group is committed to welcoming and including all students, and the university will not intervene in the group’s leadership selection.

That statement was released a few hours after this initial statement from the school:

Wayne State University took action to decertify the student organization InterVarsity because it is in violation of the university’s non-discrimination policy, which is consistent with the United States Constitution. Every student organization that applies for organizational status must agree to this policy before being certified. Leaders of this group read and agreed to the policy during the application process.

The university is obliged and committed to protecting the constitutional and religious rights of everyone on our campus. Attaining official student organization status is a privilege rather than a right, and is conditional on compliance with our policy of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity.

We have taken every step possible to minimize the impact of the decertification on the group, and we approached InterVarsity last December with an offer to work on a resolution to this matter. Our offer still stands. Any such solution will be guided by our desire to reinstate the group’s organization status while adhering to our nondiscrimination policy.

A representative for the school group issued this response:

It’s about time that Wayne State let InterVarsity come in from the cold. Christian student groups should be able to have Christian leaders. Now Wayne State needs to make this permanent and ensure this unfair treatment will never happen again.

Christian student group sues Wayne State University over loss of status by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

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InterVarsity says it welcomes all students regardless of beliefs, but its leaders must meet certain standards. The group still meets at Wayne State but now must pay $100 to use a room.

InterVarsity has chapters on many campuses in Michigan including: Michigan State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Grand Valley and Oakland University, to name a few. 

The Chapter at WSU was founded in 1941 and was originally called Wayne Christian Fellowship and hosts weekly bible studies and discussions about faith.