The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) reports today that Indiana University-Bloomington (IUB) has eliminated a policy that had prevented the Christian student group Impact Movement from receiving student activity fee funds to help pay for its attendance at a national conference. Previously, groups at IUB had been excluded from receiving funds for activities that involve "religious proselytizing" or for "sectarian events."
According to ADF’s press release:
In December of last year, Impact Movement sought activity funding to send some of its members to its national conference. The university permits partial funding of conference attendance for members of registered student groups and had approved funding for Impact Movement in previous years. Nevertheless, the IU Student Association Funding Board denied Impact Movement’s request for 2010, citing the university’s Student Organization Funding Guidelines. The director of student activities upheld the decision.
ADF wrote to the university pointing out that such discrimination is unconstitutional, citing a recent United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decision in favor of a group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that had been similarly discriminated against.
We’re glad to see this reversal at IUB.
FIRE, meanwhile, continues to fight another unconstitutional funding policy in force at Northern Illinois University, which also falls under the Seventh Circuit’s jurisdiction. At NIU, all groups classified as "religious" or "political" in nature are prevented from receiving funds from student activity fees, while groups committed to "social justice" or "advocacy" are not. In light of the Supreme Court cases Rosenberger v. University of Virginia (1995) and Board of Regents v. Southworth (2000), and especially in light of the Seventh Circuit’s recent ruling in this area, NIU’s unconstitutional position on student group rights is thoroughly untenable, and the university would be wise to follow IUB’s example immediately.