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Christian student group regains recognition at Stanislaus State
CSUS Christian group
Stanislaus Christian Fellowship Chi Alpha was de-recognized by Stanislaus State in March as a result of the group's constitution not being compliant with an open-membership requirement in the CSU Systems Executive Order 1068, which prohibits discrimination within student organizations based on religion. The group changed its constitution and is now being recognized as a student group on campus. - photo by Photo Contributed

In what can only be described as a bittersweet compromise for members, Stanislaus Christian Fellowship Chi Alpha was officially reinstated at Stanislaus State after it agreed to amend club policy that required its leaders to affirm the group’s Christian beliefs.

“The cost of admission to any university shouldn’t include being forced to deny your faith, to deny who you are. And that should be true for all groups—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Democrat, Republican, Feminist, Latino, whatever,” said Bianca Travis, former Stanislaus Christian Fellowship president.

“We have been on the CSU campus for over 40 years serving our fellow students and providing a welcoming place for everyone. We are thrilled at the opportunity to be back on campus and look forward to once again being a full part of the student body,” continued Travis.

Although Stanislaus Christian Fellowship was de-recognized in March, Associate Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Tim Lynch said that the organization was not disbanded or prohibited to meet on campus.

“All student organizations are welcome to participate in campus life. Removal of recognition does not disband an organization or affect its individual members’ enrollment as students,” said Lynch. “It simply limits access to the use of facilities, as well as the benefits and privileges provided to recognized organizations—benefits supported by taxpayer dollars and student fees.”

In addition to losing access to perks made available to recognized groups, Stanislaus Christian Fellowship members were also unable to reserve space on campus, gain access to a mailbox in the Student Leadership and Development Office, or make use of accounting services.

“With the reinstatement of Stanislaus Christian Fellowship, those benefits and privileges have been restored,” said Lynch.

Following months of negotiations, the Cal State Chancellor’s Office decided that while religious student groups were not allowed to require all leadership candidates to share their faith, students were free to select leaders whose lives and beliefs reflected their group’s message.

“The California State University Chancellor’s Office worked with the national Chi Alpha organization to agree on the constitutional requirements for the student organizations on all campuses so that their constitutions would comply with California State law and Executive Order 1068, which prohibits discrimination based on religion and other protected grounds,” said Lynch. “The policy is grounded in state law and Executive Order 1068, and enforcement is required of all CSUs.

“When Chi Alpha submitted its constitution this year to California State University, Stanislaus, it met those requirements,” continued Lynch.

Stanislaus State’s decision came as the result of a new open-membership policy, which was added to California State University Executive Order 1068 in 2013, which required campuses to withdraw recognition of student organizations that have failed to abide through their bylaws by the end of a year-long grace period.

“We had updated Executive Order 1068 to comply with state law,” said CSU Chancellor’s Office spokesperson Mike Uhlenkamp in March. “This is not just faith based. This is about student organizations who limit membership or leadership to a specific segment of people.