For Immediate Release
(Madison, WI)—Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, today announced that InterVarsity and the University of Wisconsin (UW) have reached an agreement that settles a lawsuit and fully restores recognition to InterVarsity’s student chapter at the UW-Superior (UW-S). The agreement also removes the threat of derecognition that has been facing InterVarsity chapters at the UW-Madison and other University of Wisconsin campuses.
“This is a positive step towards the goal we seek, which is equal treatment of all student organizations, including those that are religious,” said Hill. “We hope that this agreement begins a new, cooperative relationship between the University of Wisconsin and all religious student groups.”
The university notified the UW-S chapter that it was being stripped of official recognition in February 2006. The chapter has been active on the UW-S campus for more than four decades. UW-S officials said that the chapter’s requirement that its leaders affirm InterVarsity’s Basis of Faith violated the university’s non-discrimination policy. InterVarsity maintained that a student religious organization should be able to require reasonable religious standards for its student leaders. To resolve the dispute, InterVarsity filed suit in Federal Court in October, 2006.
The settlement provides for the InterVarsity chapter at UW-S to regain all the benefits of recognized status. Those benefits include the rights to:
- use the university’s name in its title
- the use of the university’s facilities
- exercise campus advertising privileges
- use the university’s administrative services
- apply for student segregated funds
“We are very happy that we can meet freely on campus once again, like all the other student organizations,” said UW-S chapter president Nancy Hudack. “We don’t have to worry about our future as a student organization.” The chapter was allowed to continue weekly meetings in the UW-S Rothwell Student Center even though it had been derecognized.
The agreement includes a precisely worded constitution that will be used by the UW-Superior chapter, as well as chapters on the Madison campus and on other Wisconsin campuses that have been questioned on the discrimination issue by school officials. The constitution may serve as a model for other Christian groups who are facing similar situations on UW campuses and other college campuses, since the constitution was negotiated with the UW and approved by U.S. District Judge John Shabaz.
InterVarsity was represented by David French, of the Alliance Defense Fund.
A copy of the settlement is online at: http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/UWSuperiorSettlement.pdf
Background information on the UW-S case is online at http://www.intervarsity.org/page.php/campusaccess/uwsuperior1
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