Joint Statement of Rutgers University, Division of Student Affairs, and the Rutgers InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship
April 1, 2003
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and a Rutgers student organization known as the Rutgers InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship, are pleased to announce that they have amicably resolved any and all issues regarding the status and governance of the fellowship. Earlier this year, a controversy arose that resulted in the filing of a lawsuit, which will now be withdrawn. Student groups at Rutgers are registered annually and every three years are asked to submit a constitution which states the purpose of the group and how it is governed by its student members. The controversy concerned the submission of a new constitution by the Rutgers InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship and the compatibility of the new constitution with University policies concerning the selection of student organization leaders. The Fellowship was concerned that the University nondiscrimination policy might limit the ability of its members to take into account their religious beliefs and those of leadership candidates when conducting elections.
The University assured the Fellowship that its voting members are permitted to take into account both their own religious beliefs and those of candidates when selecting and voting for their leaders under University policy. Accordingly, during continuing discussions, Rutgers and InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship were able to settle upon a leadership selection process that adheres to University policy and also assures the Fellowship’s ability to select and maintain leaders compatible with the purposes of the group. The University has approved the organization’s constitution.
The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has had a student organization at Rutgers for over 50 years. Michelle DeRitter, President of the student group has said, “I have truly enjoyed my experience at Rutgers, and I am appreciative of the University’s efforts to resolve this dispute. I can state unequivocally that Christian students can come to Rutgers and participate as equal - and valued - members of the University community.”
“The University has long made considerable efforts to accommodate the enormous diversity of viewpoints in the University community, and we believe that this agreement represents a continuation of those efforts,” said Emmet A. Dennis, the University’s Vice President for Student Affairs. “Rutgers currently recognizes over 350 student organizations, including dozens of religious and cultural organizations. This agreement places Rutgers at the forefront in demonstrating that the principles of inclusivity, diversity, free association and free expression are complementary, not contradictory.”