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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Though Christian fraternity Beta Upsilon Chi was granted temporary recognition as a UF organization last week, school officials say it is too early to know if the court-ordered recognition will affect UF's policies against religious discrimination for club membership.

The fraternity, which limits membership to Christian men and is known as Brothers Under Christ, or BYX, was granted a special motion to act as an official club while their lawsuit against UF continues in court.

The fraternity is appealing UF's 2007 decision that denied the club recognition based on antidiscrimination policies.

Local chapter president Damion Dam said the status allows BYX, pronounced "bucks," to hold meetings, advertise on campus and recruit new members during a rush week in the fall.

BYX will not apply for funding from Student Government because it charges membership dues, Dam said.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said until the court reaches a decision, no changes will be made to school policy, and all other clubs must still abide by the rules. The policy requires clubs to admit students from all religions, according to the Center for Student Activities and Involvement Code of Conduct.

It cites federal and state equal opportunity laws, orders and regulations as the basis for the requirement.

UF law professor Joe Little said part of the problem is that there are constitutional protections on both sides.

The First Amendment requires the university to acknowledge any group's right to assemble, but that same amendment prevents discrimination of religion, Little said. The fact that the court ordered UF to temporarily acknowledge BYX suggests the fraternity has a good argument, he said.

Sikes said the court did not say why UF was ordered to recognize the club.

Timothy Tracey, legal counsel for BYX, said the fraternity is the victim of inequality.

Out of more than 60 religious groups on campus, 48 are Christian, and Tracey said he thinks many groups are unofficially discriminatory.

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"Their constitutions say one thing, and they do another," he said. "BYX is unwilling to pay lip service to a rule they don't believe in."

Tracey said a ruling in favor of the club's restricted membership would not open the gates to organizations discriminating against potential members based on things they can't choose, such as race or sexual preference. BYX is fighting for the right to admit members who choose to share their beliefs, Tracey said.

The fraternity, which was established in 1985 at the University of Texas, has locations in 21 campuses across nine states, but UF is the only school where BYX is not recognized, he said.

If the fraternity's goals are inhibited by non-Christian membership, Tracey said, BYX should be allowed to restrict who can join.

"It defies common sense for someone who totally disagrees with your beliefs to affect your club's goals," he said. "It's like having strip mining proponents in the Sierra Club."

Note: This article fixes a mistake from the paper, where it was inaccurately stated that "Sikes said the court did say why UF was ordered to recognize the club"

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