For Immediate Release
(Madison, WI) –Tufts Christian Fellowship, the InterVarsity chapter at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, remains a recognized student religious group following a dispute over organizational leadership requirements. Earlier this year TCF was de-recognized by the Tufts Community Union Judiciary, which charged that TCF's faith-based leadership requirements were discriminatory. The Tufts University Committee on Student Life has responded to TCF’s appeal of its de-recognition by creating a policy change which will allow Student Religious Groups to maintain religious requirements for their leaders.
TCF is conditionally recognized at this point and will prepare a new recognition application under the new guidelines. TCF student leaders released the following statement:
“We're grateful for the decision by the Committee on Student Life to amend Tufts University policy by granting student religious groups the right to hold religious criteria for group leadership. Their decision protects religious freedom and affirms the vital contributions that Tufts Christian Fellowship and all other religious groups make to Tufts students in a diverse campus environment.
“On behalf of our fellowship and the Tufts student body we are thankful for the hard work and dedication of all parties involved in this decision, most notably the Committee on Student Life, the Tufts Community Union Judiciary, the university administration, the dean’s office, and the Tufts Chaplaincy. Tufts Christian Fellowship plans to follow the outlined re-recognition procedure and looks forward to regaining full recognized status as a Tufts University student organization.
“We appreciate that the Committee on Student Life recognizes that faith-based groups may need the freedom to use faith-based criteria in its leadership selection in order to remain consistent with the mission and beliefs of their faiths. We also appreciate the Committee’s desire to protect all students on campus by both affirming the nondiscrimination policy and defining its proper context and application for student religious groups.
"We recognize that even as this policy is implemented, the surrounding campus conversation regarding nondiscrimination and religious freedom will continue. We welcome the participation of all students, student groups, and other university voices in the discussion and hope we can together fulfill Tufts’ desire to be a truly diverse campus with real differences, even opposing aims, yet respect for one another.”
Tufts Christian Fellowship is an affiliate of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a campus ministry which has worked with students and faculty on U.S. campuses for more than 72 years. InterVarsity has almost 900 chapters active on 576 U.S. colleges and universities, from the Ivy League to community colleges.
Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity, praised the Boston Globe for its November 17th editorial supporting a reversal of Tuft’s earlier decision to de-recognize the chapter. The editorial observed, “Tufts should be looking for ways to be as inclusive as possible, instead of finding reasons to cut the fellowship off.”
Hill is hopeful that other colleges and universities will follow Tufts’ lead in protecting religious liberties. “Tufts joins universities like Ohio State, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas-Austin, and University of Florida in creating a truly diverse, tolerant campus environment by protecting religious groups on campus,” Hill said. “We urge other universities like Vanderbilt University to rethink their positions.”
For more background on InterVarsity's Campus Access concerns and history, visit our Campus Access web page.
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