InterVarsity chapters were derecognized from 23 California state schools because they require their leaders to have Christian beliefs. What does this mean for the future of the chapter here at Plattsburgh State?
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is an organization where students and faculty have the opportunity to practice their faith and spread the name of God throughout a college campus.
Andrew Lower, president of InterVarsity at PSUC, said the purpose of the club is to “establish witnessing communities to further develop God’s kingdom and also investing in people’s lives and helping them become better people.”
“What happened in California is that they were trying to make it so leaders wouldn’t have any specific requirement, which is ironic in terms if you want to have a diverse campus, universities should allow this in terms of discrimination,” Lower said.
Greg Jao, the national field director and spokesperson for the Northeast cluster, is disappointed with the California State decision. “InterVarsity requires leaders to be Christians. We want people who lead sessions to believe in what they are doing,” he said. “It only makes sense.”
Jao compares it to a hockey game, “Just how you’d want a hockey player to know how to shoot a hockey puck,” he said.
Although Jao said he prefers leaders of Christian groups to be Christians, members of the organization can be of any religion. “Every student is welcome to participate,” he said.
Michael Orabona, a small group bible study leader in InterVarsity at PSUC said, “It is a good thing to have this kind of discrimination.”
Lower said, “In this sense, discrimination isn’t being negative . It’s helping with the diversity on campus.”
Jao said how this discriminatory issue is similar to that of Greek life and athletic teams on college grounds. He said each of these are gender segregated and that they discriminate against issues of gender.
Lower quoted Jao in a statement, “Universities support the needs of those groups to define their leadership and members in ways which are not consistent with anti-discrimination rules. This distinction helps to create a diverse, creative environment on campus.”
Being derecognized means looking at no more access to rooms on campus and no funding or being able to host events.
“When not recognized, they lose space and it could cost $13-30,000 to find some,” Jao said.
As for the future of the chapter at PSUC, Orabona said, “It will change the way we do ministry dramatically. They’re changing the way they serve their campus and their members and other Christians.”
For those who are interested in joining InterVarsity chapter at PSUC, you can visit their Facebook page: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at SUNY Plattsburgh.
You can also follow them on Twitter at @PlattsburghIVCF to see any club updates.
Jao said InterVarsity is where “Students have opportunities to discuss different viewpoints, and being in power doesn’t mean eliminate viewpoints — but to think about them respectfully.”
Email Jessica Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org.