Audrey Jarvis, a liberal arts major at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, was told she had to take off her cross neckless while working at a freshman orientation last week because it could potentially offend others or make incoming students feel unwelcome at the university. Jarvis was working for the Associated Students Productions, the university’s “number one source for campus events,” at the time.
“I was offended because I believe as a Christian woman it is my prerogative to display my faith any way I like so long as it is not harming anyone else,” Jarvis told Fox News. “I was very hurt and felt as if the university’s mission statement – which includes tolerance and inclusivity to all – was violated.”
Hiram Sasser, the Liberty Institute attorney representing Jarvis, said that Jarvis was told that “she could not wear her cross necklace because it might offend others, it might make incoming students feel unwelcome, or it might cause incoming students to feel that ASP was not an organization they should join.”
When Jarvis failed to comply with her supervisor’s initial request to remove her necklace, she was asked again—this time to either remove it or tuck it under her shirt. Jarvis decided instead to leave work early rather than compromising her religious ethics.
The supervisor may have been trying to prevent any feelings of discrimination that new students may feel, but instead ended up trampling on the rights of a student already enrolled at Sonoma State.
“It’s amazing in this day of diversity and tolerance on university campuses that a university official would engage in this type of obvious religious discrimination,” Sasser told Fox News.
The university doesn’t seem to be giving Jarvis any more trouble about the necklace, however.
According to a university spokeswoman, Sonoma State President Ruben Arminana was “angered” by the incident and is attempting to get in touch with Jarvis so that he can personally issue her an apology.
Sasser told Fox News that the school employee’s request is actually a breach of California state law, since “state employees may wear crosses while they are performing their duties as long as the wearing does not interfere with the employees’ duties or harm the employer’s business interest.”