The Committee on Student Life at Tufts University recently decided that religious student groups are no longer required to adhere to a campus-wide nondiscrimination policy:
The new policy changes the guidelines for the Judiciary’s group recognition process to allow religious groups to argue for “justified departures from the Tufts nondiscrimination policy” in their leadership decisions for Chaplaincy-approved religious reasons.
The decision comes after a controversy in which the Tufts Christian Fellowship, a religious student group on campus, included a clause in its constitution requiring students in leadership positions to adhere to a “basis of faith.” The group was suspended and lost university recognition, but appealed that decision — and won.
The concern here: religious groups may now be allowed to freely discriminate against LGBT people (and others) with no repercussions. Last year, a student in a different chapter of the same fellowship was kicked out for being gay. From an editorial that ran in the school’s newspaper:
… the CSL’s policy, rather than promoting religious freedom, promotes religious exceptionalism. It serves as a loophole that essentially invalidates the nondiscrimination policy — we do not discriminate at Tufts, except when we do — and sets a dangerous precedent that may, down the road, allow for sidestepping of that policy.
… by establishing an avenue through which only SRGs can seek exemption from this policy, the CSL is conferring priority to a single group protected by Tufts’ nondiscrimination clause. It establishes that religious freedom is a right that holds priority over the right to freedoms that any other group protected by the clause could claim. In effect, the same rules no longer apply to those claiming that right.
There’s already a Facebook page for students against the religious exclusion decision. Check it out if you’re so inclined! This is a pretty big deal for a lot of people, and we need to speak up about it.