At Harvard College, the Office of Student Life has placed the student religious group Harvard College Faith and Action on “administrative probation” for a year after the organization pressured a female member of its student leadership to resign in September following her decision to date a woman.
College spokesperson Aaron M. Goldman announced the move to put HCFA in a statement that read,
“After a thorough review and finding that HCFA had conducted itself in a manner grossly inconsistent with the expectations clearly outlined in [the Office of Student Life’s] Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide, OSL has placed HCFA on a one year administrative probation.”
HCFA co-presidents, students Scott Ely and Molly L. Richmond, elaborated:
“Earlier today, we met with an administrator who informed us that the College would place HCFA on probation, citing our relationship with Christian Union as well as our standards for leaders. The decision to suspend HCFA, though, is almost certainly tied to the Sept. 2017 resignation of a female bisexual former assistant Bible course leader. HCFA leadership asked the woman to step down from her position after they learned she was dating another female student—violating guidelines laid out in the Harvard College Student Handbook, which stipulates recognized campus student groups cannot discriminate on the basis of “sexual orientation.”…We reject any notion that we discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in our fellowship. Broadly speaking, the student in this case was removed because of an irreconcilable theological disagreement pertaining to our character standards.”
In other words, the group did not eject the female student because of her sexual orientation, but because the religious group’s principles dictated that same-sex sexual relations were wrong, thus disqualifying her as a leader. The ejected student herself confirmed to the Harvard Crimson that this was her understanding.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Is Harvard on solid ethical ground suspending the group?
I’m going to keep my powder dry on this one, except to add three possibly relevant pieces of information:
- Last week, Harvard Christian Faith and Action’s hosted a Christian speaker who described herself as an ex-lesbian, and who advocates that people who feel same-sex attraction avoid acting act on it out of their love for God.
The group was suspended five days later.
- Harvard, as a private institution, is not strictly bound by the First Amendment,
- The student handbook referred to as the authority for the group’s suspension includes a section that reads, “Any form of discrimination based on … religion … is contrary to the principles and policies of Harvard University.”