Vanderbilt administrators recently notified our organizations that our registered status will not be renewed unless we pledge not to use religious criteria when selecting student leaders of our religious organizations. In the name of an “all-comers” policy, fifteen student organizations will no longer be welcome on campus, effectively disenfranchising over 1,400 students or more than one out of 10 students at Vanderbilt.
The Tennessee legislature, 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and other government leaders have clearly condemned Vanderbilt’s policy. Thousands of current students, faculty members, parents of current students, and alumni have voiced concern that this policy besmirches the reputation of Vanderbilt University as a place of reasoned conversation and principled pluralism.
We reiterate our support of a fair and reasonable non-discrimination policy. We agree that all campus groups should be open in membership to all students. We would affirm the university’s nondiscrimination policy if it clearly allowed religious groups to have religious qualifications for student leaders – as is the case at most American universities.
We long for Vanderbilt to be an intellectual community that welcomes principled disagreement and respectful dissent. We desire to preserve our religious identity and organizational integrity precisely so that we can make a distinct contribution to a truly diverse campus conversation. The faith-based leadership requirements Vanderbilt asks us to waive have been developed and preserved for over 2,000 years by our faith communities. We cannot set them aside and remain true to our identity.
We respectfully urge the Vanderbilt administration to adopt a policy that not only clearly advances our shared commitment to non-discrimination but also adequately preserves the religious liberty and the creedal integrity of faith-based student groups.
Asian American Christian Fellowship
Baptist Campus Ministry
Christian Legal Society
Every Nation Campus Ministry
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Graduate Christian Fellowship
Lutheran Student Fellowship
Medical Christian Fellowship