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TCF loses official TCUJ recognition, plans to appeal

Published: Monday, October 22, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 16:10

Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) has lost its official recognition as a Tufts Community Union (TCU) student group over alleged discriminatory clauses in the group’s constitutional requirements for its leaders.

TCF leadership says the group plans to appeal the decision. 

The group’s Vision and Planning Team (VPT) failed to make revisions to their governing document that would bring it in line with the TCU Constitution’s non-discriminatory clause, Judiciary Chair Adam Sax, a senior, said. 

As an unrecognized group, TCF will lose the right to use the Tufts name in its title or at any activities, schedule events or reserve university space through the Office for Campus Life and request and receive funding allocated by the TCU Treasury, Sax said.

TCF is the Tufts chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, an evangelical Christian mission on college campuses across the country, and also has ties to the university Chaplaincy.

The group had been operating in a state of suspended recognition after the Judiciary found that the group’s constitution can be interpreted in a way that excludes students from leadership positions based on their beliefs. The clauses in question require that any TCF member who wishes to attain a leadership role must adhere to a series of tenets called a Basis of Faith, or eight “basic Biblical truths of Christianity.”

The Judiciary last month recommended that TCF move the belief-based leadership requirements from the constitution’s bylaws, which are legally binding, to its mission statement, which is not. 

By the first week of October, TCF had not submitted any amendments, so Sax set a deadline of Oct. 18 for the group to do so. 

“It was long enough for the [Judiciary] to say, ‘This is something that needs to start getting done,’” Sax said.

The VPT solicited feedback from TCF members and submitted a proposal for a new draft to be reviewed by the Judiciary. The revised constitution, among other changes, shifted a clause requiring leaders to follow the Basis of Faith to the constitution’s opening article and reworded several clauses in the article on leadership selection.

After reviewing the revised constitution, the Judiciary found that the clauses about leadership selection still excluded students who did not share a certain belief system, Sax said. TCF decided to accept derecognition rather than continue to revise the document.

“In the end, we felt we couldn’t satisfy their suggestions,” senior Elaine Kim, a member of the VPT, said. 

The group has ten days to appeal its derecognition, according to Sax. It must file paperwork with the Committee on Student Life (CSL) requesting that a panel of students and faculty re-examine TCF’s recognition status and either uphold or strike down the Judiciary’s decision. 

“We’re deciding to appeal this decision because we feel like just the purpose of our organization is to...encourage understanding and celebration of each belief [in the Basis of Faith], and the best way to fulfill that purpose is to have leaders that are centered on and unified by these beliefs,” Kim said. 

“We feel like we have the right to be selective on the basis of belief for our leaders since we’re a student group that is trying to encourage understanding about a faith-based set of beliefs,” she added. Her sentiment is echoed in her Op-Ed, “TCF to appeal derecognition,” on page 9. 

It is a familiar process for TCF, as the Judiciary derecognized the group in 2000 after a student alleged that she had been denied a leadership role because of her sexual orientation. TCF appealed to the CSL, which reversed the decision and reinstated the group’s recognition. 

Kim said that while she cannot predict the outcome of the planned appeal to the CSL, TCF will continue to exist as a student group based in the Chaplaincy should its derecognition be upheld.

“We don’t know what the results are going to be but we’ll continue to read the Bible and pray together,” she said. 

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19 comments Log in to Comment

Tom Morley
Thu Nov 8 2012 17:18

You keep asking this question, Andrew Shum, even though it has very little bearing on whether or not TCF should have been defunded. I have read the Constitution. It is discriminatory. TCU-J has read the Constitution. They have found it to be discriminatory as well. Are you going to argue any points, or just keep asking this question?

Mon Oct 29 2012 16:00
How many of you have actually read the proposed constitution?
Mon Oct 29 2012 00:46
This same issue occurred this September where a girl was removed from her position as a bible study leader because the club found out she was gay. The group has been taken off student government funding and recognition but no other administrative actions have been taken and the Colby Christian Fellowship remains tied to intervarsity and is stationed in a club room on campus.

I am not in support of CCF or TCF if they hold policies that are discriminatory against LGBT students. I am a Christian myself and believe in full and equal rights to LGBT and that includes within relgious circles. I understand that privately, groups are allowed to hold their own views but NOT with university or college recognition and funding. I respect the views of those who believe homosexuality is wrong, but I do NOT agree nor do I respect the belief that actions can be taken against those who are LGBT.

I do not believe homosexuality is condemned in the bible and I am an active Christian. What would TCF have to say about me?

COME ON NESCAC, let's fix this issue.

Sun Oct 28 2012 21:43
TCU-funded groups can elect any kind of leaders they want - but they have to LET everyone run. TCF said you can't run "unless" you live your life our way ... no other group on campus does that. An easy fix would be to let anyone run, and just vote for the ones you like - but TCF can't do that, since it's under some interesting external pressures...
Fri Oct 26 2012 09:35
Amazing how this is a microcosm of government we all pay taxes yet if any of them go to non politically correct groups like churches, the libs rise up! Yet we all are suppose to fund Planned Parenthood and liberal news radio despite not wanting to. Hey kids TCF has been around for decades and is part of a national organization. You didn't just wake up and discover them. It's either time to change TCU's charter or start crossing everyone off your list that wants its leaders to be of a certain sex, religion, ethnic origin, or what ever is on your list. Please go contact Hillel, Society of Women Engineers, the Asia Society etc. This is absurd and out of control. Take your prejudices and grow up.
Tom Morley
Wed Oct 24 2012 08:11
Contrary the clownish statements below (Criminals! Thought police! OUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS!) no one is discriminating against "Christians." Besides the fact that their is more to Christianity than what TCF represents (that is, non-Evangelical and non-Protestant Christianity, which makes up a vast majority of the Christian faithful). TCF is free to meet, free to discriminate against and exclude LGBT people. They are not free to do it on TCU dime, when they themselves abrogated the agreement they had with TCU over the non-discrimination policy.

Accusations below, of "sustained patters of bigotry against Christians," etc. are, of course, b.s., likely written by someone with no connection to Tufts. Even more ridiculous are threats to "bring [Tufts] to justice," "criminal proceedings," and the like. The Supreme Court has held, in CLS v. Martinez, this sort of non-discrimination policy (i.e. you don't get to exclude gay people from your on campus organization, or leadership of that organization. Nor can you exclude women, African-Americans, etc.) to be constitutional. You have no leg to stand on here. Only your insane idea that Christians, who make up the vast majority of the US population and heavily influence our laws, are somehow a persecuted minority. They're not: they're the persecuting majority. Cut the victim-playing, cut the dishonesty.

They are perfectly free, "Classof09" to have a leadership purged of LGBT people. They are also perfectly free to have non-democratic elections (one in which all candidates are vetted by the IVCF) and otherwise go against TCU-J policy. They aren't, however, free to do it on TCU's dime.

Wed Oct 24 2012 00:11
The administration of Tufts University, along with the self-appointed thought-police in the Tufts Student Union, have, for decades, demonstrated a clear pattern of institutional discrimination against Christians, and of creating a hostile environment for people who hold Christian beliefs.

These criminals need to be confronted on their bigotry. The Tufts Student Union, along with the university administrators who enable their bigotry, need to be forced by a court of law to immediately cease and desist from their unlawful discrimination against Christians, and they need to be forced by law to make amends for their clear pattern of discrimination.

This clear pattern of discrimination against Christians hurts ALL groups who value self-determination and the right to free association.

Tue Oct 23 2012 20:23
As much as I loved my experience at Tufts, this reminds me that much of those four years that were not about free expression, the open exchange of ideas, and learning.

Any student group that is based on ideas, faith, or advancing a certain group WILL necessarily have "belief-based leadership requirements." Will the Tufts Democrats allow a Reagan-loving Tea Partier to take the helm? Will the LGBTTQ collective allow a Christian who believes in traditional marriage to steer the group? Will a women's group allow a pro-life leader?

Now, if these TCF kids had any brains, they would flood a liberal group, enroll as members, and, by sheer force of numbers, elect themselves to leadership roles. By doing so, they would highlight how "discrimination" based on ideas is the fundamental role of many groups that receive campus funding and TCU recognition.

I'm sad to see that my alma mater still has not figured out how to teach its students the history of liberalism (the rights to assembly, speech, and belief that they are trying to suppress for TCF were those very same rights that enabled modern liberal ideas to develop). Nor have its students left the echo chamber, discarded intellectually vapid thinking, or dared to respect people whose beliefs and opinions are not their own. It's doubly sad to think that college is supposed to be challenging one's beliefs, learning from others, and developing critical thinking skills.

Tue Oct 23 2012 17:41
Yeah, calm down and accept this discrimination which is a part of Tuft's non-discrimination policy. How about you people stop trying to control everything. Just let it go. You're really not protecting anyone, you're harming free thought and free association.
Tue Oct 23 2012 14:40
Sounds like the Judiciary doesn't like Christians very much. Does the vet school have any lions at the moment? Maybe a feeding or two would be enough to make those Christians denounce their pesky beliefs and be reinstated.
Yulia K
Tue Oct 23 2012 11:32
In response to the question about MSA (Muslim Students Association), their Constitution has no discriminatory language such as religious leadership requirements; TCF is the only group who does. It's not an issue with any specific religion or organization, it's an issue with a specific constitution.

As 10/23/2012's letter to the editor said, there's nothing wrong with selecting your group leaders to fit your values, but there is when it comes to barring people from getting to run in the first place.

Tue Oct 23 2012 10:53
I fail to see how this is discriminatory language; a Christian group wants their leaders to be Christians. Every group on campus wants leaders that reflect the organizations purpose.
Mon Oct 22 2012 18:57
the "islamic club" question is a good one. have we looked into the bylaws of other religious groups? it does seem like this cant be the only club with some type of discriminatory language. that isn't to say that they should receive funding, but maybe there are other clubs that shouldn't either?
Mon Oct 22 2012 18:44
No wonder so many Christians are trying to get into Brigham Young University in Provo Utah. It's hard to find an institution that is christian based or supports good moral values.
Mon Oct 22 2012 17:51
Calm down, kids. The TCU has a non-discrimination policy; if TCF doesn't like it, they can exist outside TCU-funding.
Mon Oct 22 2012 17:39
I'm pretty sure people would have been equally upset if an "Islamic" club were receiving funding in spite of policies that discriminated against those giving the funding. But nice job channeling your inner Mike Huckabee. Really put the situation in perspective.
Mon Oct 22 2012 17:16
If this was an islamic club there is NO WAY Tufts would stipulate such a requirement. But with a Christian group it's open sad for Tufts.
Mon Oct 22 2012 17:08
No, Classof09, what's actually against the spirit of Tufts is forcing LGBT students to pay into an account that funds a group that actively discriminates against them and that allies itself with an organization known for publishing books with titles like "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality." IVCF's literature is some of the most hateful, religious-based bigotry available, and the kinds of arguments it makes, that homosexuality is sinful, preventable, and something to be ashamed of, are a big part of why the LGBT community in the United States still faces so much discrimination today. Seriously, research it yourself, this group has a long history of propagating some of the very worst, and most scientifically unsound, gay and lesbian stereotypes. It is responsible for countless cases of discrimination against LGBT students on several college campuses over the years, and a group that has proven itself so antithetical to Tufts' commitment to inclusion has no place here.

That said, no one is saying we need to punish the students involved in TCF or "ban" TCF from campus. All this decision really does is prevent the group from receiving funding from the student activity fee -- which is perfectly reasonable since much of that money comes from the substantial percentage of Tufts students who identify as gay and lesbian, i.e. the very students against whom the group's policies discriminate.

Mon Oct 22 2012 16:02
As a recent graduate (and a Catholic), I find this incredibly depressing and against the spirit of Tufts. I plan on writing an op-ed on this issue in support of TCF; no group should be discriminated against simply because they want a leader of their organization to hold the same views as their group. It's absurd and TCU has stooped to a new low!

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