InterVarsity Seeks Agreement with University of Wisconsin

News Release
For Immediate Release

(Madison) — The leaders of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Superior are hopeful that UW-S officials will find an accommodation for the chapter so that it can continue to be a registered student organization on the Superior campus.

UW-S officials said they withheld recognition of InterVarsity beginning with the 2006-2007 school year because the chapter requires its student officers to affirm the Doctrinal Basis of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The Doctrinal Basis requires a belief in the basic doctrines of the Christian church. The university maintains that the requirement violates the university’s non-discrimination policy.

InterVarsity disputes the finding and does not discriminate in its organizational policies except according to the reasonable standards necessary to maintain a vital and active organization on the UW-S campus. It is InterVarsity’s position that its policies are affirmed by a recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit , and that the university’s action violates student rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association.

InterVarsity asked the University of Wisconsin to change its discriminatory student organization policy in a letter to university officials by attorney David French, of the Alliance Defense Fund, on August 4, 2006. The letter also sought change on behalf of the Knights of Columbus, which has been de-recognized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Although our campus activities are open to all, we fulfill our mission through Christian student leaders,” said InterVarsity president Alec Hill. “To be required to open our leadership positions to those who do not subscribe to our mission – to not discriminate on the basis of religion – would cut to the very core of who we are.”

InterVarsity has weathered challenges to its chapters’ organizational standards on a number of campuses in recent years. InterVarsity was forced to respond with legal action against Rutgers University in 2002. The Rutgers case and the disputes on other campuses were resolved through negotiation and InterVarsity remains active on all of the campuses where disagreements over its doctrinal statement have arisen.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA® is an evangelical campus mission serving more than 32,000 students and faculty on more than 570 college and university campuses nationwide. Incorporated in 1941, InterVarsity has a rich tradition of campus witness, thoughtful discipleship, and a concern for world missions.

For more information:
Gordon Govier
Media Coordinator
(608) 443-3688