Intervarsity, a Christian fellowship organization at Sonoma State University, was derecognized as a campus organization last fall because of their failure to allow students of any faith to hold leadership positions within the club.
The fall semester has brought a change to Intervarsity across the entire California State University system and the organization is now, again, a recognized organization on CSU campuses across the state after much negotiation with the university system.
In 2011, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed passed Executive Order 1068 stating no campus will recognize any student organization unless its membership and leadership positions are available to all currently enrolled students at that campus.
“Intervarsity was established the second year SSU was in existence and we would like to be here for the long haul,” said Troy Tisthammer, a staff member involved with Sonoma State’s Intervarsity.
Tristhammer sees the organization as something that builds connections between people who don’t share the core beliefs of the group and those who do.
Ciara Smith, a sophomore communications major was unhappy when the university derecognized the organization last year. She credits the reinstatement of the club to the support they got from people and organizations across the nation as well as to the work Sonoma State students did last year to become a recognized club again.
Intervarsity requires students to recite and affirm the clubs doctrine, to confirm they abide by Intervarsity’s Christian beliefs, which include being of the Christian faith if holding a leadership position in the club. This violates Executive Order 1068. Intervarsity has in fact revised its bylaws to allow membership to consist of "all registered students" without regard to faith.
In 2013, the CSU Chancellor Timothy White realized that this Executive Order applied to all religiously affiliated organizations on campus, but granted them all exemption for the 2013-14 school year.
In 2014, Intervarsity’s Constitution required review as per Executive Order 1068, but the process was never completed, putting Intervarsity on the chopping block, not just at SSU, but on all 23 CSU campuses.
Intervarsity still existed in the 2014-15 school year, but as an off-campus association, unaffiliated with the school. Members of the organization cite how Intervarsity had to pay $1,000 a week to meet at the Cooperage at Sonoma State.
Intervarsity was reinstated at the start of this semester, after negotiation with White. Their constitution was revised, until they reached a compromise both the organization and the CSU system agreed upon.