At Georgetown, InterVarsity is Back
Last year, just before the students returned to the campus of the Roman Catholic Georgetown University, the school's Protestant chaplain informed six evangelical student ministries that they were being "disafilliated." That is, they could not use campus facilities for their events, could not advertise their events on campus, and could not use the Georgetown name or logo.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was one of the affected ministries, and the irony could not have been sharper: the daughter of IVCF president Alec Hill was a Georgetown student.
InterVarsity has been fighting legal battles at public campuses defending students' right to join voluntary associations on campus that could hold to the standards of Christian belief and behavior. There have been some very positive results from these legal actions at, for example, Rutgers (2002) and the University of Wisconsin-Superior (2007).
Georgetown, though, is a private, church-related university, and it had the legal right to ban any non-Catholic group from its campus. But that's no way to run a university. As Alec Hill said at the time, "As a parent, I am surprised Georgetown as a major university would close down freedom of association for their students. That seems contrary to Georgetown's ethos. It's an open marketplace of ideas."
Well, today I received a news release from IVCF announcing that Georgetown had completely restructured things, clearing the way for IVCF and other similar ministries to reaffiliate. Read InterVarsity's news release here.
While IVCF had to bring legal pressure elsewhere, genuine dialogue and listening seemed to work in this case. A university open the free exchange of ideas! What a blast from the past!