Just before summer officially started, on June 18, 2016, Concordia University
Irvine first alerted its supporters, family and friends to a proposed new law that
would have threatened our ability to continue offering a Christ-centered education
to our students. Over the summer, it was very difficult to track exactly how this
new law – Senate Bill 1146 – would ultimately impact our Lutheran Christian
university. The Bill was amended nine different times. Several of these
amendments endangered the future potential of our students to receive CalGrants.
Other amendments jeopardized our continued ability to hire Christian faculty and
staff. These amendments were unacceptable, and Concordia opposed them.
As it turns out, the final version of the Bill – the version that the Governor signed
on September 30, 2016 – will not significantly impact ongoing operations at
Concordia. The bill adds two new provisions to the California Equity in Higher
Education Act (California Education Code Sections 66250 – 66292.4). The
California Equity in Higher Education Act is an existing law that prohibits
“discrimination on the basis of disability, gender, gender identity, gender
expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, [or] sexual orientation … in any
program or activity conducted by any postsecondary educational institution that
receives, or benefits from, state financial assistance or enrolls students who receive
state student financial aid.” (Section 66270.)
However, the Act includes a statutory exemption for any “educational institution
that is controlled by a religious organization if the application [of the prohibition in
Section 66270] would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that
organization.” (Section 66271.) This exemption applies to Concordia University.
To comply with the new legal requirements (now included in as Sections 66290.1
and 66290.2), Concordia University, together with other Christian universities and
colleges, will be required to disclose “the basis for having the exemption and the
scope of the allowable activities provided by the exemption” by posting new
notices on campus, providing that information to students and employees, and
filing new documentation with the California Student Aid Commission.
These new legal requirements are not effective until the beginning of the 2017-18
academic year (August 2017).
Ronald A. Van Blarcom ‘83, CUI General Counsel