Vanderbilt University Board Meets; Discrimination Issue on the agenda

Vanderbilt Solidarity had an informal lunch with two student representatives of the Board of Trust. Though the entire board was invited, only the student representatives attended. “The message we consistently get from them is, ‘We don’t care about your voice,’” Valk said. “That’s kind of hard to take.”

The Vanderbilt University Board of Trust kicked off a two-day meeting today (Apr 19) that could ultimately decide whether Christian student groups will remain on campus next semester.

The meeting marks the first time the board has included on its agenda a time to discuss the university’s new nondiscrimination policy, and its impact on Christian student groups. Under the policy, any religious groups that want official campus recognition must allow leadership positions to be open to anyone — even those who don’t share their beliefs.

And that is something most of the Christian groups on campus say they simply cannot do.

“This is the checkpoint in the road at which the administration will either approve of the policy or ask them to rethink it,” said Pieter Valk, spokesman for the coalition calling itself Vanderbilt Solidarity.

Earlier this month, two Catholic groups announced they will move off campus rather than be forced to comply with the policy — prompting the university to declare they will no longer be able to call themselves the “Vanderbilt” or “Vandy” chapters of their national organizations.

Meanwhile, 11 evangelical groups still on campus — 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 — submitted their annual applications without changing their respective statements of faith. Those groups comprise approximately 1,500 students.

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