Map

The map below depicts public college and university campuses across the country where religious and political student groups have lost recognition due to nondiscrimination policies. You can click on each of the pins below to learn about a specific case or issue.

 

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Arizona State University In 2004, the university denied a religious student group recognition because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. After the group challenged the university in court, the university revised its policy to allow religious student groups to require their leaders and members to share their religious beliefs. (Christian Legal Society Chapter at Arizona State University v. Crow, No. 04-2572 (D. Ariz. Nov. 17, 2004).
Boise State University In 2008, the university implemented a policy that would not allow religious student organizations to consider religion in selecting leaders. The student government required two religious groups to remove references to the Bible from their constitutions. The groups challenged the policy in court. The university agreed to recognize the religious groups and allow them to “limit leadership positions to students who share the same beliefs, values, and purposes” of the groups. (Cordova v. Laliberte, No. 08-543 (D. Idaho 2008). In 2012, the university stated that it wished to return to a policy that would prohibit religious groups from having religious leadership requirements. In 2013, the Idaho Legislature protected the ability of religious student groups to have religious leadership requirements. Idaho Code § 33-107D.
Bowdoin College In 2014, the college derecognized a religious student group because it required its leaders to agree with its religious beliefs, as it had done for several decades. Despite The New York Times’ front-page coverage, the college derecognized the religious group.
California State University System In November 2005, four Christian student organizations (Alpha Gamma Omega-Epsilon, Alpha Delta Chi, and two chapters of Every Nation Campus Ministries, based at San Diego State University and Long Beach State University) sued the California State University System after it denied them official recognition because they would not agree to accept members and officers who disagree with their Christian beliefs and viewpoints. The University’s policy, which applied to all twenty-three schools in the university system, prohibited campuses from recognizing student groups that select members or leaders on the basis of religion. A trial court ruled against the Christian organizations, in favor of the University. On August 2, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision and ruled against the Christian groups, finding the University’s nondiscrimination policy was constitutional under Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. The groups asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lower rulings, but the request was denied. The California State University comprises 23 campuses with 437,000 students. In the 2014-15 academic year, the University withdrew recognition from many religious student associations because they required their leaders to affirm the associations’ religious beliefs. Some excluded groups had met for sixty years on Cal State campuses with religious leadership requirements. But under a new university policy, as a Cal State administrator explained, “What they cannot be is faith based where someone has to have a profession of faith to be that leader.” Eventually, Cal State retreated from its position and provided a letter that, under certain circumstances, religious groups’ leadership selection processes could include questions about a candidate's religious beliefs. But the problematic policy remains on the books, and the religious groups remain on campus solely at the discretion of university administrators. In the past two years, some religious groups have experienced problems obtaining recognition on particular campuses. Also on the books is a decision by the federal Ninth Circuit that allowed (but did not require) the university to exclude religious groups because they require their leaders to be religious. (Alpha Delta Chi v. Reed, 648 F.3d 790 (9th Cir. 2011).) This Ninth Circuit opinion leaves unprotected 25% of all colleges students in the nation. The 23 California State University campuses are: California State University, Bakersfield; California State University, Channel Islands; California State University, Chico; California State University, Dominguez Hills; California State University, East Bay; California State University, Fresno; California State University, Fullerton; Humboldt State University; California State University, Long Beach; California State University, Los Angeles; California Maritime Academy; California State University, Monterey Bay; California State University, Northridge; California State University, Pomona; California State University, Sacramento; California State University, San Bernardino; ;San Diego State University; San Francisco State University; San Jose State University; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; California State University San Marcos; Sonoma State University; California State University, Stanislaus.
Case Western Reserve University In 2006, the university denied recognition to a religious student group until it received a letter from a legal organization. In 2013, the student government of a graduate school at the university denied recognition to a religious student group because of the “emphasis on God and especially because of the bible sessions” in its application for recognition. After a letter drafted by a legal organization was sent, the graduate school recognized the group.
Central College In 2008, the college threatened to expel a religious student group from campus because it asked its leaders to agree to live according to its religious beliefs. Eventually, the college agreed to allow the group to remain on campus.
Cornell College In 2011, the college required religious groups to delete their religious leadership and membership requirements from their constitutions in order to remain on campus.
Florida State University In 2004, the university threatened not to recognize a religious student group because of its religious leadership requirements. After a letter from a legal organization, the university recognized the group.
Fort Lewis College In 2012, a religious student group was told that a college policy did not allow them to approach other students on campus to discuss spiritual topics. The problem was resolved through correspondence from legal counsel.
Georgia Institute of Technology In 1997, a university threatened to derecognize a religious student group because of its religious leadership and membership requirements. The Georgia Attorney General issued an opinion that the university was violating the group’s free speech rights. The university then recognized the religious organization.
Indiana University System In August 2015, the university announced that it would change its policy so that religious student groups could no longer require their leaders to agree with the groups’ religious beliefs. The university acknowledged that religious groups would not be able to choose their leaders according to their religious beliefs but that fraternities and sororities would be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex in their selection of members and leaders. Twenty religious student groups, including Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian student groups, sent a letter to the administration expressing their concerns about the new policy and its impact on religious groups’ ability to choose their leaders according to their religious beliefs. After seven months of communications from students, parents, alumni, donors, and state political leaders, the university announced that it would keep its original policy and allow religious student groups to have religious leadership requirements.
Louisiana State University In 2003-2005, the university denied recognition to a Muslim religious student group that had met on the LSU campus for many years. The university said that a new university policy required all student organizations to state in their constitutions that they would not restrict membership based on religious belief. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university restored recognition to the religious student group.
Milwaukee School of Engineering The student government refused to renew recognition of a Christian student group because of its religious standards of conduct. After a legal organization sent a letter, the student government restored recognition to the group, as well as to a Muslim student group.
Minnesota State University, Mankato In 2015, a student invited some of her dormitory neighbors to discuss religious ideas. A residential adviser told the student that she was violating a university policy that allowed students to prohibit “religious solicitation” on a dormitory floor by majority vote. Eventually the university repealed its policy.
Montana State University In 2014, the university adopted a new policy that effectively prohibited religious student groups from having religious leadership requirements. The religious groups could not persuade the university to allow them to maintain their leadership requirements because of Ninth Circuit precedent.
New Jersey Institute of Technology In 2010, the college had a policy creating three tiers of student groups with the third tier automatically denied student activity fee funding, unlike the groups in the first two tiers. The third tier consisted largely of religious student groups.
North Country Community College In 2005, a student was told by university administrators that she could not form a religious student group because of “separation of church and state.” After a letter from a legal organization, the university agreed to allow her to form a religious student group.
Northwestern University In 2015, several religious students were found to have violated campus policies against solicitation after university administrators defined “solicitation as “seeking to gain support for organizations or causes.” The administrators concluded that students who initiated spiritual conversations with other students and invited them to a meeting violated university policy. The university punished the religious student group by imposing sanctions on it.
Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law: In 2003-2004, a religious group was threatened with derecognition by the law school after a member of another student group demanded that it be derecognized because of its religious leadership and membership requirements. After months of discussions with university administrators, the religious group sought court protection. It dismissed its legal challenge after the university revised its policy to allow religious student organizations to have religious leadership and membership requirements. The religious group then met without problem from 2004 to 2010. (Christian Legal Society Chapter of the Ohio State University v. Holbrook, No. C2-04-197 (S.D. Ohio 2004 (dismissed when university changed its policy).) In 2010, the university asked the student government whether the university should discard its policy and no longer allow religious groups to have religious leadership and membership requirements. After several public meetings on the issue, the student government urged the university to drop its protection for religious student groups and “endorse[d] the position that every student, regardless of religious belief, should have the opportunity . . . to apply or run for a leadership position within those [religious] organizations.” Having unleashed anti-religious sentiment on campus, the university eventually tried to compromise and retain protection for religious groups’ leadership requirements but not membership requirements. But the campus controversy continued. Ultimately, the Ohio Legislature resolved the issue by prohibiting public universities from denying recognition to religious student organizations because of their religious leadership and membership requirements. Ohio Rev. Code § 3345.023.
Pace University The law school denied recognition to a religious student group because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. After eighteen months of correspondence, including letters from a legal group, the law school eventually recognized the religious group with religious requirements for leaders.
Penn State University In 2004, the university refused to recognize a Christian student group because the university claimed that its purpose was duplicated by other religious groups. The university had a policy that required all religious groups to be “unique.” The policy would effectively limit the number of Christian groups on the campus. After the group challenged the policy in court, the university recognized the religious student group and deleted its policy requiring “uniqueness.” In 2005, however, the university adopted a policy that prohibited religious student groups from requiring their leaders to agree with the groups’ religious beliefs and standards of conduct. In response to another court challenge, the university revised its policy to allow religious groups to choose their leaders according to their religious beliefs. (DiscipleMakers v. Spanier, No. 04-2229 (M.D. Pa. 2005).)
Princeton University For several years before 2005, the student government denied a religious student group recognition because it was religious. After a letter from a legal organization, the administration eventually granted the group recognition.
Purdue University In 2003, the university threatened to derecognize a religious student housing cooperative because it required its members to agree with the religious beliefs that defined the house. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university agreed to continue to allow religious housing cooperatives formed around religious beliefs.
Rollins College In 2013, a number of religious groups were de-recognized and could no longer hold Bible studies on campus because college administrators applied a policy that effectively prohibited religious student groups from having religious leadership and membership requirements.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick In 2002-2003, the university derecognized a religious student group because it would not include language in its constitution that would prevent it from requiring its leaders to agree with its religious beliefs. In response to a court challenge, the university revised its interpretation of its policy to allow religious student groups to keep their religious leadership requirements. (Intervarsity Multi-Ethnic Campus Fellowship v. Rutgers, No. 02-06145 (D.N.J. 2002).)
Shippensburg University A university derecognized a religious student group because its leadership and membership requirements purportedly violated the university’s speech code. After the group filed a court challenge, the university changed its policies to affirm that religious and political groups could choose their leaders and members according to their beliefs.
Southeast Missouri State University In 2015-2016, the university denied a religious student group recognition because it required its leaders to agree with its religious beliefs. The group worked with the administration and the student government to secure a policy that would protect religious groups. In April 2016, the student government voted not to adopt a policy that would protect religious groups. After the student government vote, five additional religious groups indicated that they would not be able to remain on campus if they could not require their leaders to agree with their religious beliefs. In October 2016, the university agreed that religious student groups could have religious requirements for their leaders.
Southern Illinois University School of Law In 2005, law school administrators revoked a religious student group’s recognition because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. The student group challenged the policy in court and won. (Christian Legal Society v. Walker, 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006).)
State University of New York, Buffalo In 2011, the student government derecognized a religious student group because it required its leaders to conform to its religious standards of conduct. After seven months, the student judiciary ordered that the student government restore recognition to the religious group.
State University of New York, Oswego In 2001, a religious student group was denied recognition because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. Eventually the university agreed to recognize the group with its religious leadership and membership requirements.
Temple School of Medicine In 2013, a religious student group was told by campus administrators that it stood to lose recognition because it required its leaders to lead lives in accordance with its religious beliefs.
Texas A&M In 2009, the university told a religious group that it would no longer be recognized because it required its members to agree with its religious beliefs. After a legal organization sent a letter, the university agreed to recognize the religious group with its religious membership requirements. In 2011-2012, another religious group was told it must delete its religious requirements for its leaders and voting members from its constitution if it wanted to remain a recognized student group. After several letters from a legal organization, the university agreed to allow the group to be recognized with its religious requirements for leadership and membership.
Tufts University In 2000, the student judiciary voted to derecognize a religious student group because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. After a legal organization sent a letter, the administration restored recognition to the religious group. The issue arose again in 2014.
University of Arizona In 2010, the university denied recognition to a pro-life student group because the group’s proposed constitution required that its members share its beliefs about the sanctity of human life. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university granted recognition to the group. Subsequently, in 2011, the Arizona Legislature protected religious student groups’ ability to choose their leaders and members according to their religious beliefs. A.R.S. §§ 15-1863.
University of California, Davis A nondiscrimination policy at the University of California, Davis protected students regardless of their religious beliefs, unless they held Christian beliefs. The policy said: “Religious/Spiritual Discrimination - The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture's religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.” In February 2011, after receiving a letter from a legal group, the university revised its policy.
University of California, Hastings College of Law In 2007, a religious student group was denied recognition because it required its leaders and voting members to agree with its religious beliefs. The law school claimed to have a novel policy that required all student groups to “allow any student to participate, become a member, or seek leadership positions in the organization, regardless of their status or belief.” The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the law school could apply this policy to religious groups, but only if it applied the policy uniformly to all student groups. (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 561 U.S. 661 (2010).) This decision has created nationwide confusion on college campuses with severe repercussions for religious student groups, because many colleges claim they have this novel policy when they do not and instead are discriminatorily excluding only religious student groups from their campuses.
University of Florida In 2008, the university refused to recognize a religious student group because of its religious requirements for its leaders and members. When the group challenged the policy in court, the university revised its policy to protect the right of religious groups to have religious leadership and membership requirements. The university paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the student group’s legal fees. (Beta Upsilon Chi, Upsilon Chapter at the University of Florida v. Machen, 586 F.3d 908 (11th Cir. 2009), vacating as moot, 559 F. Supp. 2d 1274 (N.D. Fla. 2008).)
University of Georgia In 2006, the university denied recognition to a religious student group because of its religious leadership and membership requirements. When the group challenged the policy in court, the university revised its policy to allow religious student groups to select leaders and members based on their religious beliefs. (Beta Upsilon Chi v. Adams, No. 3:06-cv-00104 (M.D. Ga. 2006).)
University of Idaho College of Law In 2001, a law school’s student government denied a religious student group’s request for student activity fees funding because the religious group required its leaders and voting members to agree with its religious beliefs. In deciding the religious group’s appeal, the student judiciary determined that the religious group could receive student activity fees funding while having religious leadership requirements.
University of Illinois In 1993, a law school threatened to derecognize a religious student group for its religious beliefs. When a faculty member wrote a letter on behalf of the religious group, the law school allowed the group to remain recognized. (Stephen M. Bainbridge, Student Religious Organizations and University Policies Against Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation: Implications of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 21 J.C. & U.L. 369 (1994).)
University of Iowa In 2017, the university is investigating a religious student group, and threatening to punish it for having religious leadership requirements. For over a decade, religious groups have been targeted by other student groups for exclusion from campus because they require their leaders to agree with the groups’ religious beliefs. In 2004, for example, the law school denied recognition to a religious student group because it required its members and leaders to agree with its religious beliefs. After several letters from a legal organization, the university recognized the group. But over the years, there has been a steady drumbeat of opposition to religious student groups on campus.
University of Maine-Farmington In 2010, the university threatened to deny recognition to a religious student group unless it removed from its constitution that the group’s purpose was to evangelize. After fifteen months, the university agreed to restore its recognition.
University of Mary Washington In 2005, a student wanted to start a religious student group but could not agree to a university policy that would prohibit it from having religious leadership requirements. In the past, the university had denied recognition to any student group that was religious or political in nature. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university recognized the group. In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law to protect religious and political groups. Va. Code Ann. § 23-9.2:12,
University of Michigan In 2012, the university derecognized a religious student group because it required its leaders to agree with its religious beliefs. In 2013, the university restored recognition to the religious student group. The university has a history, dating back to 1992, of sporadically threatening to exclude a religious group because it requires its leaders to agree with its beliefs.
University of Minnesota In 1994, the university derecognized a religious student group because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. A professor at the law school led the successful effort to regain recognition for the group. (Michael S. Paulsen, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Limited Public Forum: Unconstitutional Conditions on “Equal Access” for Religious Speakers and Groups, 29 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 653, 675 (1996).) In 2003, the university denied recognition when another religious group refused to state in its constitution that its membership was open to all students regardless of religion. The group challenged the university policy. In order to settle the case, the university changed its policy to allow religious student groups to “require their voting membership and officers to adhere to the organization’s statement of faith and its rules of conduct.” (Maranatha Christian Fellowship v. Regents of the Board of the University of Minnesota System, No. 03-5618 (D. Minn. Oct. 24, 2003).)
University of Montana School of Law From 2007-2011, the law school student government denied recognition to a religious group because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. The religious group challenged the policy in court, but the district court ruled against the religious group because it was in the Ninth Circuit. The religious group dismissed its appeal when the law school agreed to implement numerous reforms to bring allocation of student activity fees into conformity with the First Amendment. (Christian Legal Society v. Eck, 625 F. Supp.2d 1026 (D. Mont. 2009), appeal dismissed, No. 09-35581 (9th Cir., Aug. 10, 2011).)
University of Nebraska, Omaha In 2010, the university told a religious student group that it must remove from its constitution its requirement that its leaders agree with its religious beliefs. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university agreed to recognize the group. The university also had told a different religious group that its students could not meet with students who had filled out a card indicating that they wanted to receive information from the group.
University of New Mexico School of Law In 2001, the law school denied recognition to a religious student group because it required it leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university revised its policy and recognized the religious group with its leadership and membership requirements.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill In 2005-2006, the university denied recognition to a religious student group because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. The student group challenged the university’s action in court. The university settled the case by adopting a policy that allows all student groups, including religious groups, to have leadership and membership requirements regarding beliefs. (Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity v. Moser, No. 04-765, 2006 WL 1286186 (M.D.N.C. May 4, 2006); 2005 WL 1720903 (M.D.N.C. Mar. 2, 2005).) Nonetheless, for the next 8 years, religious groups at UNC were repeatedly told that the policy might be altered to no longer allow religious leadership requirements. In 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation to protect religious student groups on public college campuses. N.C.G.S.A. §§ 115D-20.1 & 116-40.12.
University of North Carolina, Greensboro In 2011-2012, the university denied recognition to a religious student group because it required its members to agree with its religious beliefs. The university recognized the group after it challenged the university policy in court.
University of North Dakota In 2003, the university denied recognition to a religious student group because it required its leaders and members to agree with its religious beliefs. After several months, the university agreed to allow religious groups to take religion into account in selection of their leaders and members and restored recognition to the group.
University of North Texas Dallas In 2016-2017, the law school delayed granting a religious student group recognition because of its religious leadership requirements. After 8 months, the university adopted a policy that protects religious groups: “A registered student organization created primarily for religious purposes may restrict officer positions to those members who subscribe to the registered student organization’s statement of faith.”
University of Northern Colorado In 2011, a religious student group was denied funding for a campus event due to a university policy that prohibited funding for “ideological, political, or religious activities.” The policy was eventually changed.
University of Oklahoma In August 2011, the student government sent a memorandum to all registered student organizations, announcing a re-interpretation of university policy that would prohibit religious student associations from having religious leadership and membership criteria. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university agreed that a religious student group could require its leaders to agree with its religious beliefs. In 2012, the university denied recognition to a religious student group because it required its members to agree with the group’s religious beliefs. After receiving a letter from a legal organization, the university agreed to recognize the group. In 2014, the Oklahoma Legislature enacted protection for religious student groups. 70 Okl. St. Ann. § 2119.
University of South Carolina In 2008, a religious student group was denied access to student activity fee funding that was available to other student groups solely because it was religious. After the group challenged the policy in court, the university adopted a new policy that allowed all student groups to be funded on the same terms.
University of South Florida In 2015, the university implemented a new policy that effectively denied student activity fee funds to student groups with religious leadership requirements.
University of Toledo College of Law In 2005, the law school refused to recognize a religious student group unless it removed all scriptural references from its constitution. The university also required the group to pledge not to choose its leaders and members on the basis of religion, even though the university actually had a written policy that allowed religious groups to do so. As a result of the group’s challenge in court, the university recognized the group and agreed that student groups could have religious leadership requirements and include references to the Bible in their constitutions and bylaws. (Christian Legal Society Chapter of the University of Toledo v. Johnson, 3:05-cv-7126 (N.D. Ohio June 16, 2005))
University of Wisconsin, Madison The university derecognized a religious student group in part because of its religious leadership and membership requirements. When the group challenged its policy in court, the university had to change its policy. (Madison Roman Catholic Found. v. Walsh, 2007 WL 1056772 (W.D. Wis. Apr. 4, 2007).) The university then denied student activity fee funding to the religious group because its speech included prayer and religious instruction. The religious group won its court challenge to this viewpoint discrimination.
University of Wisconsin, Superior A university refused to recognize a religious student group because it required its leaders to agree with its religious beliefs. After a court challenge, the university recognized the religious student group with its religious leadership requirements. Badger Catholic v. Walsh, 620 F.3d 775 (7th Cir. 2010).
Vanderbilt University In 201-2012, Vanderbilt University denied recognition to fourteen religious groups because they required their leaders to agree with the groups’ religious beliefs. The university told one religious student group that it must delete five words from its leadership requirements if it wanted to remain on campus: “personal commitment to Jesus Christ.” That group left campus rather than recant their core religious belief. The university told another religious student group that it was religious discrimination for the group to state in its constitution that it expected its leaders to lead its Bible study, prayer, and worship. Also, the university claimed it was religious discrimination for the group to require that its leaders affirm that they agreed with the group’s core religious beliefs. In 2013, Tennessee passed a law protecting religious student groups on public university campuses. T.C.A. § 49-7-156. The law does not apply to Vanderbilt University because it is a private university.
Washburn University In 2004-2005, a law school student government voted to punish a religious group for not allowing a student to lead its Bible studies even though the student admitted that he did not agree with the group’s religious beliefs. When the religious group sought protection in court, the law school agreed to allow the religious student group to keep its religious leadership and membership requirements. (Christian Legal Society Chapter of Washburn University School of Law v. Farley, No. 04-4120 (D. Kan. Sept. 16, 2004).) In 2016, the Kansas Legislature adopted a law protecting religious student groups on public university campuses. K.S.A. §§ 60-5311 to 60-5313.
Wright State University In 2009, the university denied a religious student group recognition because it required its voting members to agree with its religious beliefs. The religious group had been a recognized student group at the university for 30 years. After receiving correspondence from a legal group organization, the university restored the group’s recognition.