Following the capture last night of the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, the university’s Boston and Medford/Somerville campuses will stay closed on Saturday, April 20 until 5 p.m. All curricular and co-curricular activities planned to start before 5:00 p.m. today are cancelled.
The Boston campus’ Hirsh Health Sciences Library will be open during normal hours Saturday.
On the Medford/Somerville campus, some facilities are open today.
Carmichael and Dewick will both open tomorrow at 8:00am for breakfast. Tisch Library, Health Services and all athletic facilities will be open for normal Saturday hours.
The Granoff Family Hillel Center will hold normal Saturday services, and Counseling and Mental Health Service will hold a workshop for concerned students Saturday 4:00-5:00pm in Sawyer House at 120 Curtis Street.
Athletic events with athlete transportation arranged by Tufts will continue, and the women’s lacrosse game against Wesleyan will be held at Tufts at 3:00 p.m.
Two shuttle routes operating today will continue service. Route maps and schedules for the shuttle are available here.
In addressing the paid advertisement entitled “Faces of Islamic Apartheid” that appeared in today’s issue of the Daily, I’d like to clarify and apologize on behalf of the Daily for the editorial oversight that led to the ad’s publication. It should be made clear that any ads that run in the Daily, including this one, do not in any way reflect the views of the paper, nor do they reflect the views of any member of the paper’s masthead. On a personal level, I would be deeply disappointed if anyone at Tufts truly supported the Islamophobic and violently offensive ideas this ad and the organization that purchased it promote.
While the Daily reserves the right to sell ad space to any organization that agrees to pay the posted fee, our collective failure to thoroughly vet the origins and content of this particular ad was indicative of a deep dysfunction in the way our system works. Our readers deserve better than a faulty system, and so effective immediately the Daily will begin a thorough reevaluation of how requests for our paid ads are vetted.
The Daily retains its editorial independence from the university and the TCU government by relying solely on advertising revenue from organizations both external and Tufts-affiliated that agree to pay our posted rates. Every ad that appears in the paper originates with an email from the advertiser to a representative from the Daily’s business staff, whose positions are far removed from the content decisions made by the Daily’s editorial staff. Members of the business department process each ad and the corresponding payment from the organization purchasing it. It is at this stage that the content and origin of an ad should first be evaluated for accuracy and fairness, and accepted or rejected based on whether it achieves the overall level of discourse that the Daily hopes to achieve with all of our content, paid or otherwise, as the newspaper of record serving the Tufts community. In this case, the ad was sent by a representative of the Horowitz Freedom Center, an organization whose advertisements in other publications have drawn similar reactions to the ones I have heard from multiple students to today’s ad in the Daily. It’s obvious that a clearheaded evaluation of the ad based on these criteria simply didn’t happen. This is due, in part, to the lack of a defined protocol in the case that we receive ads that contain content of questionable acceptability. It’s rare that a hateful organization like the David Horowitz Freedom Center requests that the Daily place an ad promoting its views in the paper. We receive and print several external ads in each issue of the paper and most of them are purchased by local and national businesses, or Tufts academic departments or student groups seeking to advertize events or classes.
In the handful of instances that this organization and others like it have approached the Daily in the past, we have refused their request to purchase an ad on the grounds that they were blatantly defamatory and simply not suitable for publication in a newspaper that serves a community like Tufts that will not tolerate hate speech. This criteria applies to the ad in today’s paper as well. The fact that this ad was considered acceptable for publication when the Daily received the request, let alone left in place through multiple rounds of edits was, in short, irresponsible. It’s not fitting of the Daily’s commitment to holding the position as this campus’ primary source of news and discourse in a socially and appropriate manner. Precedent doesn’t excuse the oversight that led to this happening even one time. In light of this mistake, it will from now on be required that each business department staff member be given strict and explicit guidelines for thoroughly and thoughtfully reviewing each ad that is submitted to the Daily. This begins with considering whether the ad’s buyer is a person or organization whose values and intentions align with those of the Daily — a criteria this ad and the organization did not and do not meet.
The responsibility for this ad appearing in the Daily doesn’t end with the Daily’s business department, however. After an ad is placed it is incorporated into the digital document on which the paper gets created and its content edited. Each page of the paper is printed out and reviewed by multiple members of the Daily’s editing staff and at least one member of the paper’s managing board. Clearly, we as editors are guilty of lapses in judgement and a failure on multiple levels to process advertizing content with the same conscientiousness we process Daily-produced content. A similar reevaluation to the one the business department will undergo will also apply apply to each of the editors responsible for looking over the paper, ads and all, before it goes to print.
I want to be clear: in publishing this ad, and in every piece of content that appears under the Daily’s name, discrimination was not our intent. Promoting the opinions of organizations that are guilty of hate speech was not our intent. Alienating Muslim students at Tufts was not our intent. Our intent was to complete a financial transaction that happens multiple times a day between the Daily and those who buy ads with us. But doing so in blatant disregard of the implication that this particular ad’s content would have for those who read it was careless. It was irresponsible, and it gave voice to a party whose voice does not belong at Tufts. It indicates a need for the Daily to seriously reconsider how we vet those who wish to advertise with us and the ads they submit.
I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to the members of the Tufts community who have reached out to me and the Daily in protest of our publication of the ad. It shouldn’t be up to you to keep hurtful material out of the Daily — that job is ours — but it’s heartening that we serve a community if students that has the best interest of their classmates at heart and the conviction to hold the Daily accountable for our actions.
While it’s my hope that Tufts and the pages of the Daily remain a place where free speech and contesting viewpoints can see light in the interest of productive conversation on controversial issues, this aim must be conducted within the realm of responsibility and civility. In granting legitimacy to those whose goals are to create dissension and promote hate, we went beyond that realm, and for that I apologize. The Daily does not support the message of the ad or the organization that purchased it, and a reevaluation of our ad placement and editing processes will certainly take into consideration the hurtful impacts of this kind of language has.
Editor-in-chief , The Tufts Daily
TCF to remain “conditionally recognized,” given 60 days to reapply
A new university policy will allow student religious groups, including Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF), to request University Chaplaincy permission for religious exemption from the university’s anti-discrimination clause in choosing their leaders when applying for TCU recognition.
The procedure was announced today as an official resolution in the appeal case TCF brought to the Committee on Student Life (CSL) after the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Judiciary voted last month to derecognize the group. It 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 also allows TCF to remain “conditionally recognized” –without the rights to apply for TCU Senate funding or to Tufts’ name and resources– while they reapply for recognition under the new guidelines.
The CSL is a body of faculty members and students—chaired this year by Associate Professor of Biology Philip Starks and senior Rebecca Spiewak—whose responsibilities include hearing appeals of decisions handed down by the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Judiciary. The committee was asked at the beginning of last month to hear and make a ruling in the TCF appeal case after the Judiciary removed the evangelical Christian group’s TCU recognition status because clauses in its constitution violated the TCU Constitution’s non-discrimination clause.
Their ultimate decision, which the committee deliberated over the past month and released today in an email to the student body, has two major clauses.
“The [Judiciary] followed its policy correctly in de-recognizing the TCF.”
The decision first affirms the Judiciary’s vote in October to strip TCF of its status as a TCU-recognized group.
“Regarding the specific question of whether the [Judiciary] acted inappropriately, we find no significant fault with the [Judicary],” the decision reads. “No human process is perfect, and while variation across decision processes should be minimized, it is our finding that the [Judiciary] followed its policy correctly in de-recognizing the TCF.”
The Judiciary made the initial decision in September to put TCF’s recognition status on hold following the annual spring semester group recognition period. During the process, by which the Judiciary reviews the policies and governing documents of all TCU recognized groups on campus, it found that a clause in TCF’s constitution requiring students assuming leadership positions to affirm their belief in a series of series of tenets called a Basis of Faith, or eight “basic Biblical truths of Christianity,” was exclusionary to students who do not hold these beliefs and violated the TCU Constitution’ non-discrimination clause.
TCF made revisions to its constitution during the weeks that followed, but the revised version they sent to the Judiciary in October still contained the Basis of Faith requirement for leaders and was deemed to be in continued violation of the TCU Constitution.
In an interview with the Daily, Starks said the committee had not found any fault with the Judiciary’s processes or standards, and do not recommend any internal changes to the body.
While the CSL decision upholds the Judiciary’s decision to derecognize TCF and denies the group’s appeal, it simultaneously allows TCF to remain “conditionally recognized,” holding the same rights as TCU-recognized groups for 60 days under the provision that during this time it participates in a reapplication process outlined by the CSL.
The reapplication process, should TCF choose to participate, would allow it to work with the University Chaplain—a position currently held ad interim by Rev. Patricia Budd Kepler—and the other chaplains that make up Chaplaincy to develop a case for “justified departure” from the university’s nondiscrimination policy and bring that argument to the Judiciary as a part of their reapplication process.
“Any characteristic that deviates from Tufts’ nondiscrimination policies will need to be described very carefully. They’ll need to be described [and] justified to the Chaplain,” Starks said.
The University Chaplain, and the five chaplains that make up the Chaplaincy, would then evaluate the justification.
“If it is well supported by the doctrine of the faith, then the Chaplain may allow that to go forward,” Starks said.
In essence, the new policy would allow TCF or any other religious group to attempt to prove to the Chaplaincy—and then to the Judiciary—that adherence to a particular set of religious beliefs is necessary as a criterion for leadership within the group even if the criterion violates the university nondiscrimination policy.
The university nondiscrimination policy reads as follows:
“Tufts prohibits discrimination against and harassment of any [individual] because of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identityand expression, including a transgender identity, genetics, veteran status…and any other characteristic protected…under applicable federal or state law.”
As part of existing Judiciary, the Chaplaincy already reviews the constitutions of religious groups before they are allowed to apply for Judiciary recognition. The CSL decision also emphasizes that any groups applying for recognition from the Judiciary—a distinction that carries with it the right to request Senate funding drawn from the Student Activities Fee and to use the university’s name and resources—must continue to uphold and adhere to the University’s full nondiscrimination policy with respect to group membership.
A unanimous vote
According to Starks, the twelve voting faculty and student members of the CSL were unanimous in their support of the decision’s two major judgments—both that the Judiciary was correct in derecognizing TCF, and that this new exemption policy would adequately fill the void in policy regarding leaders of religious groups.
Although the Judiciary originally found TCF’s constitutional clauses for leadership in violation of the TCU Constitution—the governing document for the TCU government including the TCU Senate and the Judiciary—the CSL’s decision released today focuses only on religious groups’ relationship with the university-wide nondiscrimination policy.
The CSL combined the two documents in the interest of simplicity, according to Starks. While the TCU Constitution’s nondiscrimination clause is distinct from the university policy on discrimination, the Constitution derives its language from the Tufts policy, he explained.
“It all comes from the same tree,” Starks said. “The [Judiciary] policy cannot be in conflict with University policy.”
According to Starks, should TCF choose to apply for re-recognition by the Judiciary and go through the process of justifying their deviation from the university’s nondiscrimination policy, the Judiciary will be expected to place a heavy emphasis on clarity as it makes its decision.
“At that level the [Judiciary] will be looking mostly for transparency and for whether or not that information is presented in a way that will be easily digestible by our student body,” Starks said. “The policy that we’re creating here really asks for transparency in any of these deviation from the non discrimination policy at Tufts,” he added.
A reasonable expectation
The new process for establishing “justified departure” is meant to serve as a compromise between the “reasonable” expectation that religious groups should be allowed to hold their leaders to certain belief standards and the university’s commitment to upholding its own policy of nondiscrimination, Starks said.
“In leadership positions, individuals are often required to be exemplars of a particular approach, and I think it’s natural then for a group built around a philosophy to expect that its leadership reflect that,” he said.
The process applies to any Chaplaincy-affiliated religious group that seeks recognition or re-recognition from the Judciary from this point forward. If a religious group’s constitutional policy of selecting leaders based on religious doctrine is called into question by a member of the Tufts community or the Chaplaincy, however, it must receive approval from the Chaplaincy before it can apply or reapply for TCU recognition.
A chapter under fire
The Chaplaincy’s list of recognized religious organizations includes TCF as well as 16 others, such as the Muslim Students Association at Tufts, the Catholic Community at Tufts and the Latter Day Saints Student Association and the Tufts Freethought Society, which describes itself online as a “community of atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics, and friends at Tufts.”
TCF is unique among these groups in maintaining a clause in its constitution requiring that its leaders pledge to uphold a certain belief system.
Complicating matters is TCF’s dual role as a campus religious group but also as a chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA (IVCF), an evangelical Christian mission on college campuses across the U.S.
The Basis of Faith clause in TCF’s constitution—the same clause that led to TCF’s derecognition in October—is derived from a similar clause on IVCF’s website that the national organization requires of its chapters to retain in its constitution.
IVCF provides spiritual and indirect financial assistance to its chapters, although members of TCF’s leadership have said that that the InterVarsity’s influence over TCF is overemphasized and that TCF student leaders have the last word on all chapter policies.
Starks said the committee didn’t consider the relationship between TCF and IVCF in its handling of the case.
“The appeal that we received was very specific to our student body and our response is very specific to the student body,” Starks said. “I haven’t really taken into consideration the external organization. I’m very concerned about Tufts University.”
Read the op-ed by the chairs of the Committee on Student Life here
Check out Washington Post opinion writer George Will’s column on free speech on college campuses this weekend for a mention of Tufts’s own The Primary Source.
In writing about the waning tolerance of free speech on college campus, Will in his column cited a book that criticizes Tufts’ 2007 charges of harassment against The Primary Source for articles that ran in the pages of the Tufts’ Journal of Conservative Thought
The Committee on Student Life (CSL) in spring 2007 found The Primary Source guilty of harassment after both an individual student and the Muslim Students Association separately charged the Source with “harassment and the creation of a hostile environment” because of anonymously-written articles that ran in its pages that academic year.
The two articles included a carol in the Dec. 6, 2006 issue entitled “O Come All Ye Black Folk” and another an April 11 piece entitled “Islam – Arabic Translation: Submission.”
The book Will is talking about–“Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” by Greg Lukianoff– says Tufts “may have been the first American institution “to find someone guilty of harassment for stating verifiable facts directed at no one in particular.”
He mentions rulings at several other universities–including a policy at the University of Oklahoma that bans the use of email for “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” and a Drexel University rule against “inappropriately directed laughter” as examples of how these schools and others are increasingly intolerant of opposing viewpoints and create “echo chambers” on liberal campuses.
Read Will’s column here and a 2007 Daily article about the incident here and tell us what you think. Was calling the Source’s content “harassment” an infringement on on free speech?