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.