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Sunday, April 14, 2013
I grew up in the church and regularly attended a weekly Bible study for years with my youth group before coming to Virginia Tech and getting involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. Campus Crusade for Christ is focused on spreading the word and building the Christian community here at Virginia Tech.
Last year, as a freshman, I looked to Cru to help me continue to grow in my faith and to allow me to work alongside like-minded people by continuing in small-group Bible studies. Cru invites and welcomes any student at Tech to join us at our meetings. I’ve never seen anyone turned away.
Participating in groups and organizations with missions that match our religious or political beliefs is a long-standing tradition for college students. But the introduction of all-comers policies, which eliminate the ability of these groups to set criteria for members and leaders, undermines the value, purpose and attractiveness of these organizations. Supporters of all-comers policies admit African-American organizations could be forced to admit white supremacists. The policies could have opened the door to Orthodox Jewish and Muslim groups being banned from campuses if their beliefs were deemed discriminatory. Most student organizations want to advance their mission and expect their leaders to set that example.
Legislation passed by the General Assembly will ensure that the current policy of the majority of Virginia’s universities will continue and that these important groups can continue to meet.
Opponents claim the legislation allows student groups to discriminate using taxpayer funding. Such a position implies that simply choosing to freely associate with people of similar ideas and beliefs is inherently discriminatory — a position most reasonable people find ridiculous.
The bill’s primary opposition, the American Civil Liberties Union, has argued the legislation would override a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of all-comers policies. The truth is that, while the court upheld the policies, it did not require the policies on college campuses. At the same time, the opposition is ignoring two other Supreme Court cases, one out of the University of Virginia in which the justices deemed discrimination against a religiously affiliated student organization’s group speech to be “viewpoint discrimination.” The court said a school can’t defund an organization simply because it doesn’t like its beliefs. To circumvent the Supreme Court, colleges began instating all-comers policies, which made it so that student groups could exist as long as they had no viewpoint at all.
College students like me who participate in campus groups are simply looking for a place where we can hang out with like-minded students and advance a cause in which we believe. I’m glad the General Assembly agrees that freedom needs to be protected.
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