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April 25, 2012


Vanderbilt U: Bow to Us!

On university campuses across the country, there is no greater fetish than “non-discrimination.” Most schools would rather burn down their football stadium than risk being accused of treating, or allowing anyone living on its parallel dimension, to discriminate in any way, shape, or form, unless the discrimination is against religious people. Exhibit A: Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

Vanderbilt is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a Christian institution because it was founded as an affiliate of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In fact, it cut its ties to Methodism in 1914. It cut it ties to American freedom in the last couple of years.

At Vanderbilt, anyone is allowed to start a student club or organization. You are not allowed, however, to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, either in membership or leadership. So, presumably, the local chapter of Black Student Alliance must allow whites to serve as leaders (though there is no White Students Union for blacks to run, for obvious reasons). The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Life (LGBTQI Life ) Center must allow straight students to serve as leaders as well. Women’s Club Soccer must allow men to play, as does the Women’s Lacrosse Club. And if the university heard that any of these organizations were keeping white, straight, or male students from participating and leading, they’d be taken to the woodshed.

Yeah, right.

This little rant is provoked by the latest news from Vanderbilt, in which clubs with a First Amendment right to determine their own leadership are informed that VU has seceded from the United States. According to the Christian Post:

In the ongoing debate over religious freedom at Vanderbilt University, the school has ended its registration period, acknowledging 400 student organizations, out of 469 submissions, as university-affiliated. Twenty-six of those organizations accepted are faith-based, while more than a dozen religious organizations have lost their membership due to their refusal to accept the administrators’ all-comers policy.

The religious groups accepted as university student organizations include: Presbyterian Student Fellowship; Vanderbilt Baptist Campus Ministries; Vanderbilt Hillel; Wesley/Canterbury Fellowship, a United Methodist and Episcopal student ministry; Commodores for Christ, a Church of Christ-affiliated organization; and Society of Saints Cosmas and Damian, the Catholic medical school organization, according the university’s official news page.

The issue surrounding this disparity is in regards to the university’s new all-comers policy, implemented in Jan. 2012. The policy prohibits campus groups from selecting members and leaders based on race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Eleven Christian groups opposing the “all-comers” policy formed Vanderbilt Unity, supported by the Alliance Defense Fund. These groups include Asian American Christian Fellowship, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Cru, Medical Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Graduate Christian Fellowship, Bridges International, Lutheran Student Fellowship, Every Nation Ministries, Beta Upsilon Chi, and Christian Legal Society, according to Inside Vandy, Vanderbilt University’s student newspaper.

In Vanderbilt’s alternative reality, groups that define themselves by beliefs or causes are no different from those that define themselves by racial, gender, or sexual orientation characteristics. So, if a Republican wants to join the College Democrats to get access to political strategy documents, he can. If a pro-lifer wants to join Law Students for Reproductive Justice in order to make every meeting a debate over Roe v. Wade, she can. And if atheists want to join the Navigators and demand that they be put in charge, the administration will be right behind them.

“Obviously, we are disappointed that some religious groups have either not applied for registered student status or submitted applications that do not comply with the policy. We will continue our conversations with them into the next academic year,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard McCarty said in a statement.

“All along, we have stressed that the policy is about rejecting discrimination and not about restricting religious freedom. We firmly believe the two principles can coexist on the Vanderbilt campus, and are gratified that many of our religious student organizations agree,” McCartney said in the statement.

Similarly, Beth Fortune, vice chancellor for public affairs at the university, previously told The Washington Post, “This debate is about nondiscrimination, not religious freedom, and we stand behind our policy.”

Apparently it has never occurred to these people that, by prohibiting religious groups from setting religious standards for their own leadership, they—the school administrators—are engaging in the worst kind of discrimination. They are saying, in effect, that these groups must go along with the political beliefs of Vanderbilt administration, or they will be denied the rights and privileges of recognized groups. Of course, for fanatical anti-discriminators to recognize that they are themselves engaged in discrimination would no doubt cause them to explode, like Nomad in the Star Trek episode, “The Changeling.”

Now, one could argue that the groups that oppose the university policy could change their charters to comply with the all-comers policy and then ignore it, elect leaders who are Christians, and defy the university to do anything about it. But why should they? Why should they give up their freedom, even just on paper, to act in accord with their faith? Why should they be bullied into submission by an administration that hasn’t got a clue that it is trampling all over the First Amendment, and placing restrictions and requirements on student religious groups that the U.S. Supreme Court just unanimously rejected when the federal government tried to place them on churches? (Yes, I know that Christian Legal Society v. Martinez seems to suggest otherwise, but that was because lawyers for the student group made a fatal error in the lower courts, as Lyle Denniston’s column at SCOTUSBlog makes clear.)

The administrators at Vanderbilt can claim till they’re blue in the face that this “is about rejecting discrimination and not about restricting religious freedom.” In fact, it is about discriminating against religious believers, and requiring them to kneel before the god of political correctness.


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7 comments

This really sickens me! To think that the Vandy I knew as a student no longer exists.  I am very surprised at the various “christian” organizations that went along with the policy. You would think that the Baptists would be more aware. Not too surprised about Wesley/Cantebury Fellowship.

[1] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 4-25-2012 at 03:59 PM · [top]

So why not do what David suggests and give them a giant taste of their own medicine?  Christians, join the militantly atheist clubs and make every issue one over the foolishness of atheism?  Heck, get enough in the club and you can elect orthodox Christian officers.  Guys, go out for women’s club sports.  Straights, infiltrate the gay clubs.  And I know you fellow defenders of the Patriarchy are out there…y’all demand entry to the wild-eyed feminist gaggles.

You know, Alinsky’s rules are ideology-neutral. One of them fits here:  Make the enemy live to his own rules.  Don’t sit back and whine.  Put your club off-campus so Vandy can’t touch you, then monkeywrench the haters with their own tool chest.

[2] Posted by Jeffersonian on 4-25-2012 at 04:24 PM · [top]

The best targets would be:  men seek to join the women’s sports teams; pro-lifers seek to join the pro-abortion groups; Republicans seek to join the College Democrats; and most incendiary of all, opponents of the normalization of homosexual behavior join the homosexual lobbyist groups.  I would guess that very quickly you would see a “clarification” of the rules that would basically say something along the lines of “to oppose liberal ideology is discriminatory, so conservatives can’t infiltrate liberal clubs; but to oppose conservative ideology is non-discriminatory, so liberals can infiltrate conservative clubs.”  That, or else the rabble-rousers seeking to make their point, would quite suddenly be subjected to serious abuse and harassment by University officials for “other reasons”.

[3] Posted by jamesw on 4-25-2012 at 05:51 PM · [top]

You’re probably right, James #3, but what fun it would be to see them tie themselves up in knots.

I think I mentioned this here before, but I was a coach for my daughter’s 7th grade basketball team.  At the orientation, we all had to sign affadvits that, since the league would play at the local school gym, we couldn’t discriminate on, among other things, age and sex.  When I mentioned that our team was most certainly going to do so, insofar as it was restricted to 12 year-old girls, I was informed that failure to swear to something I knew I would violate would mean we couldn’t play in the league.  I signed and turned the form in, alerting the head of the league that I, a 6-4” 40 year-old male, would be starting at power forward.  I wish I had had a camera.

[4] Posted by Jeffersonian on 4-25-2012 at 06:52 PM · [top]

Under these new rules, what, exactly, is the point of joining any club?

[5] Posted by The Little Myrmidon on 4-25-2012 at 08:36 PM · [top]

Vanderbilt will force the Catholic group to change its name.  They chose to leave the campus rather than comply, so now they can’t use the name"Vanderbilt” as part of their group’s name.

Vanderbilt tells Catholic Students To Change Name:

http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/vanderbilt-tells-catholic-students-to-change-name.html

[6] Posted by The Little Myrmidon on 4-26-2012 at 04:11 PM · [top]

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit had this take on Vanderbilt’s actions:

...When I spoke there a couple of weeks back, the students told me they thought this was part of Vanderbilt’s ongoing effort to “de-Southernize” itself.

[7] Posted by Branford on 4-26-2012 at 09:03 PM · [top]

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