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A federal judge issued a ruling on March 3 forcing the University, at least for the time being, to officially recognize a Christian fraternity that refused to sign a nondiscrimination policy.
U.S. District Court Judge Frank Bullock Jr. ’61 issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the University from enforcing its nondiscrimination policy on the three-member Alpha Iota Omega fraternity, which seeks to be an official UNC organization while barring non-Christians from membership. The matter now could go to a full trial.
Official recognition would allow AIO to receive funding from student fees and to use University facilities for meetings and events.
Alpha Iota Omega sued the University in January because the school required AIO sign a policy that states it would not discriminate on the basis of religion, among other things. The fraternity refused to sign, stating that as a Christian fraternity, it shouldn’t be forced to accept non-Christian members or members that do not share its values.
At a ruling in Greensboro in February, Bullock neither dismissed the suit, which lawyers from the N.C. Department of Justice, representing the University, were seeking, nor did he strike down the University’s nondiscrimination policy. AIO was represented by lawyers from Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund.
Instead, Bullock gave the two parties 12 days to draft a policy that AIO would be willing to sign.
Lawyers for the fraternity were unable to reach an agreement with the University by the Feb. 28 deadline, and Bullock issued a temporary reinstatement of the fraternity, citing that the University’s policy restricts AIO’s First Amendment rights while other UNC organizations are allowed to decide membership on the basis of political or other beliefs.
The University said it would comply with the judge’s ruling.