According to YU’s independent student newspaper, The Commentator, the university announced the move in an email to students. The message said the school is taking the time to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling, which said they needed to pursue the matter in state court.
“Considering the upcoming Chagim,” the letter said, using the Hebrew word referring to the Jewish high holidays, “the university will hold off on all undergraduate club activities while it immediately takes steps to follow the roadmap provided by the US Supreme Court to protect YU’s religious freedom.”
The holidays begin with Rosh Hashana on the evening of September 25 and continue through Simchat Torah on October 18. The letter did not say that clubs would necessarily be reinstated right after this time. Fox News reached out to YU for more information, but they did not immediately respond.
The dispute stems from a New York state court ordering Yeshiva to grant full recognition to an LGBTQ+ club on campus. Yeshiva has argued it is a religious institution and cannot be forced to recognize something at odds with the University’s religious mission. The NY judge found that the school is primarily an educational institution and cannot rely on a religious liberty claim in order to block the club.
The Supreme Court, denying Yeshiva University’s request to put the New York County Supreme Court decision on pause, said the school has “at least two further avenues for expedited or interim state court relief.”
Tai Miller, former YU student and plaintiff in the case against the university, reacted to the club suspension announcement on Twitter, calling it “a throwback to 50 years ago when the city of Jackson, Mississippi closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate.”
“The Pride Alliance seeks a safe space on campus, nothing more. By shutting down all club activities, the YU administration attempts to divide the student body, and pit students against their LGBT peers. We are confident that YU students will see through this shameful tactic and stand together in community.”
The school’s decision to suspend groups came a day after YU president Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman issued a statement indicating he hoped to work with the LGBTQ+ community.
“Every faith-based university in the country has the right to work with its students, including its LGBTQ students, to establish the clubs, places and spaces that fit within its faith tradition,” Berman said. “Yeshiva University simply seeks that same right of self-determination. The Supreme Court has laid out the roadmap for us to find expedited relief, and we will follow their instructions. At the same time, as our commitment to and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakable, we continue to extend our hand in invitation to work together to create a more inclusive campus life consistent with our Torah values.”
Yeshiva Student Union President Baruch Lerman was caught off guard by the club suspension, telling the Commentator he and his organization “were not expecting the university to take this drastic measure, and have not received any guidance about how we are to proceed with approving clubs, or having student council events.”