“Leadership: It is reasonable to expect that leaders within individual Student Religious Groups be exemplars of that particular religion. Therefore, an “all comers” policy for group leadership may not be appropriate for all SRGs. Justified departures from the Tufts nondiscrimination policy in SRG criteria for leadership will no longer present grounds for de-recognition. This reflects a policy change.” ( The updated Student Handbook from Tuft’s University)
InterVarsity’s Tufts Christian Fellowship was de-recognized by Tufts Community Union Judiciary this fall. The reason for TCUJ de-recognizing TCF was identical to the reason sixteen religious groups at Vanderbilt are non-registered. In both situations, the non-discrimination policy has been interpreted to mean that the use of religious criteria or belief requirements for student leadership selection is a form of invidious discrimination.
Tufts Christian Fellowship appealed the decision to the Committee on Student Life. This committee recognized that Tufts had a “policy void” regarding leadership selection for religious groups. The committee therefore instituted a new policy wherein religious groups are allowed to use religious criteria for leadership. The above quote from the student handbook is the result of the committee’s efforts to find a way forward, balancing both the needs of religious groups to preserve their identity and particularity and maintain a high commitment to non-discrimination. InterVarsity is optimistic that Tuft’s Christian Fellowship will be reinstated once it provides the theological basis for why they use faith-based leadership requirements for the leadership selection.
Two member’s of the Committee on Student Life wrote a Blog post about the process and rationale behind the decision. They conclude the post with the following:
“Our goal is to foster and protect cherished diversity here at Tufts, and we believe this new policy helps meet this goal.”
We applaud Tuft’s commitment to robust religious pluralism. We hope that Vanderbilt might share that goal both in its vision and practice. Additionally, for the sake of integrity and pluralism, and the sixteen religious groups representing over 1000 students that remain outside the recognized community at Vanderbilt, we hope that Tuft’s actions may provide a way forward in our context.
You can read Tuft’s Handbook here.
You can read the blog post here.
You can read an article from Christianity Today here.