Skip to comments.Vanderbilt University policy forces Catholic group off campus
Posted on 03/30/2012 6:29:02 AM PDT by NYer
.- A Catholic student group says it will leave the Vanderbilt University campus at the end of the year over a controversial school policy which bars the group from requiring its leaders to be Catholic.
The discriminatory non-discrimination policy at Vanderbilt University has forced our hand, Vanderbilt Catholic chaplain Father John Sims Baker said in a March 26 statement.
Our purpose has always been to share the Gospel and proudly to proclaim our Catholic faith. What other reason could there be for a Catholic organization at Vanderbilt? he asked. How can we say it is not important that a Catholic lead a Catholic organization?
Student groups cannot require their leaders to have specific religious beliefs under the universitys non-discrimination policy, The Nashville Tennesean reported. Groups must be open to all students and must allow every student member to run for office.
Leaders of Vanderbilt Catholic said that cannot comply with the rule and have decided to become an independent off-campus ministry.
We are a faith-based organization, five leaders from the groups student board said in a March 25 letter, arguing that affirming the policy would be to lie to the university.
A Catholic student organization led by someone who neither professes the Catholic faith nor strives to live it out would not be able to serve its members as an authentically Catholic organization.
Beth Fortune, vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt, said
in a statement to The Tennessean that school officials regret, but
respect, their decision.
Fortune said the university believes the vast majority of its over 400 registered student groups will comply with the policy easily.
Vanderbilt Catholic is one of the largest student religious groups at the university. It allows non-Catholics to be members, though not leaders.
It has become quite clear to the Vanderbilt Catholic students that we either stand for something or fall for anything, Fr. Baker said. We choose to stand for Jesus Christ, and we expect that our leadership to do the same.
He pledged that the organization will make a greater effort to reach out to all Vanderbilt students and all college students in Nashville.
Registered campus student organizations receive many benefits. They may use the Vanderbilt University name and may use university meeting rooms and facilities for free or reduced rate. They also receive free organizational consulting and training from administrators, the universitys website reports.
They are eligible to apply for funding from various campus sources. Registered organizations have access to free publicity in publications and may use campus bulletin boards and kiosks to promote organizational activities.
The Christian Legal Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes have also opposed the universitys policy.
Trish Harrison, campus minister for the Graduate Christian Fellowship, said her group cant sign the non-discrimination policy in good conscience, The Tennessean reports.
The groups leadership has not decided whether to try to register without signing the policy.
The Vanderbilt Baptist Collegiate Fellowship, affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, will apply for registered status as it allows anyone to be a member or apply for a leadership position.
Twenty-three members of Congress signed an Oct. 6 letter in opposition to the policy, saying it is common sense for a student group to select leaders that best represent its mission.
Vanderbilt University reexamined adherence to its policy after a November 2010 incident in which the Christian fraternity Beta Upsilon Chi asked an openly homosexual member to resign. The member filed a discrimination complaint against the group, prompting the university to investigate.
So, in efforts to not discriminate, the university has chosen to discriminate. Nothing makes sense anymore. What has happened to our culture.
Some investigation into the SOURCE of such policy decisions is in order.
PS I happen to know that Vanderbilt Catholic is a group of fantastic, practicing young people. Many of them attend daily Mass.
Once they are an off-campus organization, they should officially ask all Catholic alumni of Vanderbilt to instead of giving money to the university, to give it through the Catholic organization, to help them “further their outreach” to Vanderbilt Catholic and non-Catholic students.
I’m sure the university will be more than happy to part with millions of dollars each year, to show how important they consider their discriminatory, non-discrimination policy. College administrators are *known* for having strong backbones, especially when it concerns money, and are not just groveling, sniveling, begging little piggies.
Sounds like someone was really, really desperate for something to whine about. All this supposedly “discriminatory” policy means is that, in order to receive school funding, a student group can’t have official rules barring students from leadership positions based their religious affiliation. The school has virtually no control over what happens in practice. My guess is the members of the Catholic group are going to keep electing leaders who are strong Catholics even if their constitution doesn’t say “non-Catholics need not apply.” If a fervently anti-Catholic Hindu or atheist wins the vote, the group members have a problem amongst themselves, not with the school’s policy.
Barely recalling some controversy over availability to multiple groups on campus of community shared space designated as “prayer rooms”, I did a search for “Vanderbilt University” and “Prayer Room” on yahoo . . .and look what popped up as the first option:
Let’s me put this bluntly....we’re screwed.
Signed...clinger to God and guns...all the way down with the USS Titanic.
This is a load of crap if ever there was one.
BS! Vandy is the most pro-homo, anti-religious University in the SEC. The decent citizens of TN can’t stand the liberal stench eminating from this place. These students were 100% correct!
I don’t see anything in the article (other than the misleading title) suggesting the school forced the Catholic group off-campus. The group CHOSE to disband rather than sign a piece of paper saying they won’t discriminate against members based on religion. All student groups have to acknowledge this no-discrimination policy to receive funding from the school. Unless the school has been singling the Catholic group out in its application of the policy, there is no discrimination going on here. Just one group bowing out.
That said, I do admire the group’s honesty in its rejection of a policy everyone else only pretends to follow.
I also agree the policy itself is impractical, unenforceable and blind to the simple reality that a person’s religious beliefs sometimes ARE relevant to the purpose and mission of a group. But my guess is it’s more of a C.Y.A. gesture on the school’s part than a social agenda. I can’t blame the school for not wanting to be sued over every religious spat that happens in a student-run organization.