Students Challenge Cal State: Let Us Back on Campus

Chi Alpha student group kicked off campus for requiring religious leaders to share its faith

For Immediate Release: March 17, 2015
Media Contact: Melinda Skea, mskea@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224

Washington, D.C. – Today the Chi Alpha student group sent a letter to California State University administrators insisting that it allow Chi Alpha’s local student chapter back on the Cal State Stanislaus campus.

The student group was originally kicked off because of “religious discrimination” at the start of the 2014 academic year. Unlike other non-religious student groups such as the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance or Greek fraternities, the Cal State system now refuses to recognize any religious group that requires that its leaders share the group’s mission and beliefs.

Chi Alpha was founded in 1953 as a place where college students could gather to worship God, study scripture, pray, and give back to the community through programs like feedONE, which provides food for over 140,000 hungry children worldwide. The membership of Chi Alpha’s Stanislaus chapter is open to any student, however it asks that its leaders, who lead worship services and Bible Studies, affirm the group’s Christian beliefs. Yet because of this requirement, Cal State Stanislaus has pulled Chi Alpha chapter’s recognized status and expelled it from the official campus community and forcing it to cancel 15 previously-approved events.

“How can someone lead us if they don’t share our mission?” Bianca Travis, president of the Chi Alpha chapter at Cal State Stanislaus, Cal State cheerleader and a senior. “It’s impossible to genuinely lead a worship service or Bible study unless you believe what you’re teaching.”

In the letter it is sending today, Chi Alpha points out that it submitted a new constitution that met Cal State’s new standards in November 2014. The constitution also stated Chi Alpha’s belief that the University’s policies are unconstitutional. But Cal State administrators insisted Chi Alpha remove this protest clause. When Chi Alpha appealed to the university president, Cal State changed its mind and agreed to allow the protest clause. Yet Cal State is still keeping Chi Alpha off campus.

“Chi Alpha did everything Cal State asked four months ago. But Cal State officials keep moving the goal posts,” said Adèle Keim, Legal Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who is representing Chi Alpha. “Cal State Stanislaus allows fraternities to limit their leaders and members to men. So why can’t a religious group require its student religious leaders to practice what they preach? We call on Cal State to reinstate the Chi Alpha chapter immediately.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at mskea@becketfund.org or 202.349.7224.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

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