Christian student organization, Rollins College in dispute - FOX 35 News Orlando

Christian student organization, Rollins College embroiled in dispute

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By Tracy Jacim, FOX 35 anchor

WINTER PARK, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -- The Knowles Memorial Chapel is an interdenominational chapel on the picturesque campus of Rollins College in Winter Park.  It's one of the places college leaders used to allow members of a Christian student organization to meet.

Last Friday, the college said it would no longer designate a meeting place for the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter and its 15 or so members, because the college no longer recognizes the group as an official campus organization.  The board of trustees cited that the group was in violation of the school's non-discrimination policy.

Intervarsity has been on the campus, in some form, for nearly four decades, according to group leaders.  Last November, the college put the group on notice that it was in violation of the school policy, because of the group's requirement that its leaders be Christians.

The group recently asked the college for an exemption to the policy as a religious organization, but it was denied.

"When you create a non-discrimination policy that effectively excludes students from campus -- marginalizes the Christian students -- the policy is failing to accomplish what Rollins itself wants to do," Intervarsity Christian Fellowship National Field Director Greg Jao told FOX 35.  "We hope that will become clear to the administration and they'll reconsider."

But the college's board of trustees says not so.  "Such exceptions would be inconsistent with the process of learning and growth that the college seeks to foster," read an excerpt from a decision statement released by the board last week.

Director of Public Affairs for Rollins College Lauren Bradley said that, as an unofficial organization, the school will not provide meeting space for Intervarsity members and will not provide any funding, though this group has never received any money, group leaders tells us.

But the group can still meet on its own and will continue to do just that. 

"The group exists to promote a religious viewpoint.  To say, 'Well, any student, in theory, should be eligible to lead that religious group,' makes no sense whatsoever," said Jao.

InterVarsity national leaders say they will continue to try to work with the college's administration.


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