Christian Fraternity Sues UNC-Chapel Hill Over Non-Discrimination Policy
Posted August 25, 2004 4:22 a.m. EDT
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A Christian fraternity that refused to adopt the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's non-discrimination policy sued Wednesday because it was denied official campus recognition.
Members of Alpha Iota Omega say their fraternity is Christian and they want to keep it that way. Some group members were in federal court in Greensboro filing a lawsuit against the university.
Members allege the university violated the consitutional rights of its members, when UNC revoked its official status.
"We're seeking an injunction against the policy asking that the court refuse to allow the university to enforce that policy," said Joshua Carden, of the Alliance Defense Fund.
The university made the move after the fraternity members refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy stating membership was open to all students.
"If someone of a different faith or someone who did not agree with our standard of conduct were to automatically recieve membership in Alpha Iota Omega, it would obliterate our ability to maintain our Christian character," said Trevor Hamm, of Alpha Iota Omega.
"I don't think signing a nondiscrimination form or anything is going to hurt them in any way, because why would a non-Christian want to be involved in a Christian fraternity," student Zewde Demissie said.
"Having it come to a lawsuit is just a waste of school resources and money and a waste of time in general," student Andrew Wilson said.
Chancellor James Moeser stands by his decision and has the support of the Campus Minister's Association, which says none of its groups has exclusivity.
"I think it's important that the students of the Christian organization understand that they can be distinct, but they also can't exclude," said Rabbi Sharon Mars, of the Campus Minister's Association.
Alpha Iota Omega said no non-Christians have asked to join the fraternity.