This university is operating in a way that's counter to everything that many of us have believed about America and about our freedoms, and I think they have to be held accountable. We cannot have situation in this state where there's an institution that's a bully that gets away with whatever it wants to get away with. —Carol Swain, professor
WINTER PARK, Fla. — The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship got the boot from another college campus over the group's membership policy.
The latest school to kick the religious club off campus was Rollins College, a small liberal-arts college in Winter Park, Fla.
"The message that should send is that students of all faith traditions who are interested in open, free inquiry would find this a very welcoming place and that no one is excluded under that shared, open inquiry on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion or orientation," school President Lewis Duncan said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The paper reported that InterVarsity had been at Rollins since 1990, but a dispute over a student leader asked to step down because of her view on scriptural authority brought the organization's membership policy to the attention of college officials.
"The student did not believe that the Bible was pertinent to her decision-making," said Kim Koi, the Central Florida area director for InterVarsity. "The student was upset but ultimately expressed an understanding of our position and agreed that leadership within InterVarsity was not a good fit. We encouraged the student to stay involved."
The conflict between Christian student groups and campus anti-discrimination policies has been roiling since a split U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2009 against the Christian Legal Society, which appealed its ouster from Hastings College of Law.
In 2011, the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld San Diego State's nondiscrimination policy for student groups in a lawsuit brought by two Christian organizations whose requests for officials status were rejected because of thier exclusive membership.
The Rollins College decision is the second time this year that an InterVarsity chapter has been kicked off campus. In January, the University of Michigan stated the Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship couldn't be recognized until it "completed a process of signing the university’s non-discrimination agreement” and submitted its constitution for review.
Fox News reported that the chapter's constitution violated campus policy, and the chapter won't submit a revised constitution.
“For us, there’s no other option than to hold to the tenets of our faith,” InterVarsity staff member Sara Chang told the station. “We want to model a lifestyle of integrity. Holding the Bible as the inspired, divine word of God and seeing the commands for us to choose leaders who have a vibrant faith in Jesus is obviously something very important that we want to continue to uphold.”
The issue isn't just contained on campus. In Tennessee, evangelicals have reportedly gone to the state Legislature to punish Vanderbilt University's ban of the InterVarsity fellowship.
The Daily Beast reported that a bill that would prohibit the university's police from making arrests is in retaliation for enforcement of Vanderbilt's non-discrimination policy.
"This university is operating in a way that’s counter to everything that many of us have believed about America and about our freedoms, and I think they have to be held accountable," professor Carol Swain argued. "We cannot have situation in this state where there’s an institution that’s a bully that gets away with whatever it wants to get away with."
A bill outlawing Vanderbilt's all-comers policy was vetoed last year by Gov. Bill Haslam, according to the Nashville Scene.