Duke University’s student government has rejected a Christian student group’s request for official status. They turned down Young Life because, while the group allows homosexuals to their events, it doesn’t allow homosexuals to hold leadership positions. And that, the student government contends, amounts to discrimination.
Other Duke student groups are organized around race, religion, and sexual beliefs, but these groups have so structured their constitutions as to say they will allow anyone in. So, for example, the Muslim Student Association’s constitution promises: “all undergraduate and graduate students at Duke University are eligible for membership” and “any member of the Duke Muslim Student Association can become an officer.” Near identical wording can be found in the constitutions of the Black Student Alliance and the Native American Student Alliance.
These constitutions allow for curious possibilities. If, say, enough Christians were so inclined, they could take over the Muslim Student Association. A bunch of white, or Asian, or Latino students could do the same to the Black Student Alliance. But, interestingly, this same trick probably couldn’t be pulled on the campus LGBT group, Blue Devils United, whose constitution allows for the removal of students “found in violation of our mission” to promote “intersectionality.” Christians need not apply here.
That’s why if Young Life were to sue, it seems likely they would win. In February a federal judge found in favor of a University of Iowa student group, Business Leaders in Christ, which had been stripped of its registered status. They also wouldn’t allow a homosexual student to hold a leadership position. The judge noted that other campus groups were allowed to limit their membership, basing it on race, religion, or view of homosexuality. It was clear then that the University of Iowa was unfairly penalizing Business Leaders for limiting their leadership to Christians.