Christian Student in Discrimination Case May Leave University

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 01:04 PM

By Andrea Billups

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Audrey Jarvis, the Christian student who was asked to remove her cross necklace during a college orientation event in June, is pondering leaving Sonoma State University in California.

Jarvis, 19, was upset after an administrator asked her to take the cross necklace off, saying the religious symbol of her Christian faith might offend some other students who did not share her beliefs.

The junior from San Diego, who works as a planner for campus events, left orientation and later filed a complaint through lawyers with the Liberty Institute, a public interest law firm based in Texas. Her complaint sparked a swift apology from the university, whose president, Ruben Arminana, said Jarvis' supervisor was well-meaning but made a mistake, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported Tuesday.

Her religious liberty case drew worldwide attention.

Jarvis said school administrators are taking her concerns seriously, the Press Democrat said. She and her lawyer met with school officials Monday.

"The university is doing everything right and if I do decide to attend somewhere else, it would not be for lack of effort on the university's part," Jarvis told the Press Democrat.

"I have some things to figure out; I'm taking a little time for myself," she said. "I am not really sure where my future will take me, but hopefully within the next few weeks, I will be able to make some decisions and we'll take it from there."

Jarvis had sought through her complaint for the university to create a policy of "religious accommodation," which would cover the wearing of jewelry or clothing. The university is rethinking its policies but for now is addressing the incident under Title IX of the federal education law, which bans discrimination.

Jarvis sought no compensation in her complaint, saying she had filed it to simply make sure no other Christian student or student of another faith tradition would be denied the right to expression of deeply held beliefs.

She told the Press Democrat that she had only experienced minor moments when she felt uncomfortable because she was a devout Christian.

"Some course work I have kind of been asked to participate in or lectures I have heard have not shed a very kind light on Christianity at times, so there have been a few lectures where I have left," she said. "But I think that is going to be the case in any university, any public university that you attend."

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