Mixed Views on Vanderbilt Veto
Mixed Views on Vanderbilt Veto

Vanderbilt University will stand by its "all-comers" policy for student groups next fall, after a veto from Tennessee governor Bill Haslam in May stopped popular legislation that sought to block it.

The policy requires student groups to open membership and leadership positions to all. The legislation, which passed both state houses easily, would have instructed Tennessee's public universities—and Vanderbilt—to drop "all-comers" policies or extend them to now-exempt fraternities and sororities.

While Haslam disagrees with the policy, he said government interference in the policies of private institutions was inappropriate.

"It was the wrong decision," said Christian Legal Society (CLS) counsel Kim Colby. Christian groups should be able to require student leaders to be Christians, she said.

CLS is one of 15 Christian groups that refused to sign the new policy. The groups include more than 1,400 students. But some religious groups at Vanderbilt agreed with the veto.

"If you try to use [legislation] to force a private [school] to do something, that could come back to our evangelical colleges and seminaries," said Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) national coordinator Rod Mays. "People aren't really thinking through this process carefully to understand this could hurt us."

The campus ministry is led by an ordained chaplain and doesn't depend on student leaders, so RUF has signed the policy.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has recently been challenged at 41 campuses, said national field director Greg Jao. Much of what colleges want in an all-comers policy is laudable, he said. But what has gone wrong is lack of appreciation for the truth claims of faith organizations.

"Our position is informed in part by our understanding ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueInfographic: America's View on Evolution and Creationism
Infographic: America's View on Evolution and Creationism Subscriber Access Only
What the breakdown of opinions looks like.
RecommendedChristian Orgs Labeled Hate Groups on Top Charity Site
Christian Orgs Labeled Hate Groups on Top Charity Site
GuideStar adopts Southern Poverty Law Center’s controversial designations.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Mixed Views on Vanderbilt Veto
hide thisJuly/August July/August

In the Magazine

July/August 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.