Colleges and universities must follow a new “free inquiry and religious liberty” rule to continue to qualify for U.S. Department of Education grants, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Wednesday.
Under the Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities, public institutions could lose funding if religious student groups aren’t granted the same rights as other campus organizations, the Associated Press reported via The Voice of America.
As for private colleges, the regulations require administrators “that promise their students and faculty free expression, free inquiry, and diversity of thought to live up to those ideals.”
“Students should not be forced to choose between their faith and their education, and an institution controlled by a religious organization should not have to sacrifice its religious beliefs to participate in Department grants and programs,” DeVos sais in a statement.
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The new rule stipulates that public institutions must provide equal treatment of religious student groups. For example, religious student groups must have equal access to collect student frees and the use of campus facilities, the rule says.
The rule also clarifies how an institution’s administrators demonstrate that it is controlled by a religious organization. Federal law exempts these institutions from applying Title IX where it is not “consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”
A recent study found that college administrators can take action to help students bridge religious divides, University Business reported in August.
The four-year study, Bridging Religious Divides Through Higher Education, found only 32% of students surveyed said they acquired the needed skills to interact with people of diverse beliefs during college.