Press release from the Tufts Christian Fellowship:
An appeals board of Tufts University today unanimously overturned the"derecognition" of the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF). "We are verygrateful that Tufts has decisively restored religious freedom to thecampus," said Curtis Chang, affiliate chaplain at Tufts and campusminister to TCF.
TCF student leaders expressed relief that they can remain on campus as afully legitimate group. TCF student leader Sarah Janson declared, "We areso glad we can worship Jesus on campus in the fall, and we invite everyoneof every sexual orientation to join us." Graduating senior Chin Parkexclaimed, "I can now walk in this week's commencement exercises proudlyas a Christian who belongs here!"
Students emphasized that they can now focus on carrying out the group'smission. "We're not a group hung up about demanding this or thatright," explained TCF student Ohene Asare, "we're about sharing the loveof God wth everyone at Tufts."
Asare also voiced hope for reconciliation with Julie Catalano, the gaystudent who filed the complaint that led to the expulsion of theTCF. "We've always welcomed her as a member regardless of herorientation," said Asare. "She's our friend and we hope she'll come back."
The case highlighted how colleges and universities increasingly arebanning evangelical Christian groups over their religious beliefs abouthomosexuality. Currently, groups at Middlebury College in Vermont,Whitman College in Oregon, Grinnell College in Iowa, and Williams Collegein Massachusetts have been or are facing expulsion in situations identicalto Tufts.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship--the national organization overseeingTCF and the other threatened student groups--expressed hope that thistrend will be reversed. Phil Evans, spokesperson for InterVarsity,commented: "These other schools should look at Tufts and realize what'sobvious: that Christians shouldn't be discriminated against for theirbeliefs. " Chang agreed, saying, "Tufts now has a wonderful opportunityto exercise leadership on this issue and protect true religious diversityacross the country."
The TCF thanked its many supporters from hundreds of alumni, parents,professors, students, public figures, and other organizations across thecountry. The group praised its legal counsel, David French of CornellLaw School, for his "tireless and brilliant advocacy when we were sobeleaguered." TCF also emphasized the critical role played by theFoundation for Individual Rights in Education. "FIRE was our first andbest ally--they are true and tenacious defenders of First Amendmentprinciples at universities," declared Chang.
Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) is an inter-denominational Christianstudent group comprised of about 70 students. It is affiliated withInterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a national campus ministry present atover 550 campuses with over 34,000 students and faculty involved. TCF hasexisted at Tufts University since 1960 until its recent "derecognition" inApril of this year. It is one of the most active and largest religiousgroups at Tufts University.
Statement from the Tufts University Public Relations office.
Faculty and undergraduate students on Tufts Committee on Student Life (CSL) have ruled the Tufts Community Union Judiciary (TCUJ) failed to follow proper procedure in considering the discrimination case against Tufts University Fellowship (TCF). As a result, the CSL has returned the case to the TCUJ for reconsideration in the fall semester. In the meantime, TCF has had its status as a recognized student group restored pending the case review in the fall.
In an eight-page decision, the CSL ruled solely on the process used by the TCUJ and not on the merits of the complaint against TCF. Next semester the TCUJ, with a new student membership, will again hear the complaint against TCF and issue a ruling.
On April 13, the TCUJ ruled on a student complaint of discrimination against the TCF by de-recognizing TCF. This loss of recognition meant TCF could no longer use student activity funds, no longer use the Tufts name, and had restrictions on advertising and reserving meeting space.
While the issue continues to proceed through the student judicial system, it remains inappropriate for the administration to comment on the case.