Yesterday, Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) announced in an email to the TCU Judiciary that they would not be applying for an exemption from the non-discrimination policy and would accept their derecognition. And this morning, the Tufts Daily reported that the Executive Committee of the faculty has decided not to add discussion of the Committee on Student Life (CSL) Policy to the agenda of the upcoming AS&E Faculty meeting, effectively ending further official debate about the policy.
In regard to the decision by TCF not to seek rerecognition, we would like to re-emphasize that our goal has never been to kick TCF off campus. Rather our goal has always been to make sure that TCU recognized groups adhere to the University’s nondiscrimination policy and that University recognized religious spaces remain open and inclusive to all students. On that note, we respect TCF’s decision and right to exist as a non-recognized group with whatever leadership criteria they choose, and we wish them luck in the next chapter of their group’s journey.
However, our fight is not over.
The Coalition Against Religious Exclusion (CARE) was formed to draw attention to and protest religious discrimination on campus. Although CARE originally formed in response to practices by TCF, our focus has always been on addressing discrimination at Tufts and has never been TCF-exclusive. Our commitment to overturning the CSL Policy is as strong as it ever has been and we will continue fighting to make Tufts a more inclusive space for people of all identities.
Institutionalized discrimination has no place on Tufts campus. The CSL Policy makes it clear that the University believes that discrimination can be justified in certain circumstances, and we wholeheartedly disagree. Although no religious group has applied for an exemption from the nondiscrimination policy, as long as the CSL policy is on the books, any group can apply for an exemption in the years to come. More importantly, the CSL Policy sends a clear message to members of traditionally oppressed groups on campus: your identity is not worthy of being protected under certain religious circumstances. This is unacceptable.
The Administration must take immediate steps to overturn this policy and send a clear message that all students, regardless of identity and religious beliefs, are welcome on this campus in all TCU recognized spaces. In a recent meeting with the administration, CARE was told that the next step, according to the procedures of the faculty of the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering (AS&E), would be for the CSL Decision to be addressed at the upcoming AS&E Faculty Meeting. We were therefore shocked to learn of the Executive Committee’s decision not to add the CSL Policy to the AS&E Faculty meeting agenda because of a lack of administrative precedent to do so.
This is unacceptable. After months of meetings with student religious groups, the chaplaincy, the administration and other stakeholders, it has become clear that the University has no clear understanding of its own procedures and has no set plan for addressing this policy.
We are tired of waiting. We expect the University to immediately formulate a plan to address the grievances that have been aired both by hundreds of Tufts students and by two TCU Senate resolutions regarding the CSL Policy. We expect to leave for Spring Break with a clear outline provided by the administration on how they plan on reviewing the CSL Policy. If it is clear that the administration has no plan or desire to further address this issue, CARE will have no choice but to take direct action to increase pressure on the University to overturn this discriminatory policy.
Our voices will not be silenced. Despite the AS&E Faculty Executive Committee’s decision, our fight will continue until institutionalized religious discrimination on this campus and the policies that support it are dismantled.