InterVarsity Christian Group Back on Campus After 6-Month Battle with Wayne State, but Is It Over?

Photo Credit: Wayne State University via Facebook

A Christian student group at a Michigan university is back on campus after the school reversed its decision to revoke the group's campus privileges.

"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," the school's communication director Matt Lockwood told CBN News in a statement.

"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," he said.

The university's decision to reinstate InterVarsity came two days after the Becket Fund, a non-profit, public-interest law firm, took the case to a federal court on the Christian group's behalf.

"It's good that Wayne State saw the light after it felt the heat," Lorie Windham, senior counsel for Becket, said in a statement. "But after putting these students through the runaround for months, a last-minute change of heart is hardly enough. This kind of official religious discrimination should never happen again. And Wayne State needs to return the thousands of dollars it charged the student group."

Speaking to CBN News before Wayne State reversed its decision, Windham said de-certifying InterVarsity was a case of religious discrimination.

"Wayne State allows college Democrats to have democratic leaders," she said. "It allows Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu student groups to say that they are there to serve their communities. It allows fraternities to have only men and sororities to allow only women. I think it's just the same to allow InterVarsity to have Christians as its Bible study leaders." 

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Wayne State is one of the oldest InterVarsity chapters in the country and has held weekly Bible studies, meetings, and organized service opportunities on campus for a number of years. It is open to students of all backgrounds but stipulates that leaders must adhere to its tenets of faith. 

In October, the WSU's Dean of Students declined to renew the organization's status for the 2017-2018 school year. 

They claim the group's Constitution violates the school's discrimination policy. 

Lockwood says the school recently changed its registration process to a digital format for student groups.

"We have more than 500 student organization's on campus and they are all held to the same standard," Lockwood told CBN News. "No one was being singled out here. It's just that InterVarsity's criteria raised a flag for the student leaders."

Students who are a part of the group hope the school's recent decision will become permanent. 

"Being part of our school community has meant the world to us, and we're so glad that Wayne State is letting us back on campus," said Cristina Garza, former president and current member of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group. "We hope the school will make this change permanent, so no other students have to go through what we've been through over the last six months."

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