Background: A Decade Earlier

Background:

In the Spring of 2000, Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF), the campus chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), forced Julie Catalano to step down from her position as a leader in the organization because she stopped praying to change her sexual orientation and decided to accept her identity. Although TCF was originally derecognized by the Tufts Community Union Judiciary (TCUJ) for violating the University’s nondiscrimination policy, TCF argued at a later hearing that they forced Julie Catalano to step down not because of her sexual orientation but because she decided to accept her sexual orientation. Following this second hearing, the TCUJ ruled that the nondiscrimination policy did not cover acceptance of one’s identity. Many students on campus were outraged by the creation of a loophole that essentially made the nondiscrimination policy null and void, so they joined together to form Tufts Students Against Discrimination (TSAD). After failed negotiations with the administration and several direct actions, including a rally and a letter writing campaign, TSAD occupied Bendetson Hall for a day and a half. Following negotiations with the administration, the University President finally affirmed that the nondiscrimination policy does in fact cover acceptance of one’s identity.

  • Spring 2000: Junior Julie Catalano is elected to the TCF leadership. She is later forced to step down because she accepts her sexual orientation.
  • April 14, 2000: The TCUJ derecognizes TCF for violating the non-discrimination policy.
  • May 10, 2000: The CSL orders the re-recognition of TCF pending a new hearing in the Fall because of procedural issues with the TCUJ hearing.
  • October 13, 2000: A hearing is held by the TCUJ, where TCF is allowed to have legal counsel represent them (while Julie represents herself).  TCFs lawyer argues that TCF discriminated against Julie not because of her sexual orientation but because she accepted her sexual orientation.
  • October 16, 2000: The TCUJ puts TCF on probation until the end of the academic year to revise their constitution to clarify their selection of leadership and the role of ICVF advisers. However, in this ruling, the TCUJ states that the Universitys [nondiscrimination] policy as it stood could not be interpreted to protect students specific beliefs.
  • October 16, 2000: Tufts Students Against Discrimination (TSAD) forms to protest TCF’s policies and call for a change in wording and interpretation of the University’s nondiscrimination policy. TSAD believes the TCUJs interpretation of the nondiscrimination policy creates a loophole that would allow groups to bypass the policy completely.
  • October 23, 2000: TSAD organizes a protest rally which is attended by over 500 people. The rally ends with the attendees marching to Ballou Hall and delivering over 1,300 letters, signed by students, calling for the University to affirm that the nondiscrimination policy covers self-acceptance.
  • November 29, 2000: After an unproductive meeting with President John DiBiaggio earlier in the month and continued inaction by the Tufts Administration, members of TSAD participate in a sit-in at Bendetson Hall, which lasts for 35 hours. Following negotiations with the administration, President DiBiaggio reaffirms the nondiscrimination policy, stating that “the University’s existing nondiscrimination policy encourages individuals to accept their identity on the basis of their gender, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, disability, and ethnic origin, and supports individuals in doing so, and I affirm that the nondiscrimination policy is understood to include such self-acceptance of identity.” (Note: gender identity and expression have since been added to the policy.)
  • December 2000: The TCUJ re-recognizes TCF after they re-submit their Constitution with changes to the election process to prevent undue outside influence on the leadership (specifically from IVCF). This put in place the requirement that Leaders must agree to advocate and conform their lives to the letter and spirit of the TCFs Basis of Faith.

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