As perhaps you have heard, religious organizations at Vanderbilt University have come under fire for refusing to sign the “all comers” policy for student organizations. This policy allows any student to pursue a leadership position in a faith-based group – regardless of their beliefs.
13 campus ministries including Cru (Campus Crusade), InterVarsity, Navigators, AACF, Graduate Christian Fellowship, Lutheran Christian Fellowship, St. Thomas More Society, Vanderbilt Catholic, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Christian Legal Society – are choosing to take a stand by refusing to sign the new policy.
If Vanderbilt’s Board of Trustees continues to hold to this, these ministries will be forced off of campus. Other universities are considering similar policies.
Two links: first, a position paper on why Cru at Vanderbilt is continuing to have faith-based leadership requirements. And second, some excellent thoughts and perspective from the InterVarsity staff ministering at Vanderbilt.
As you remember, please pray for Vanderbilt’s Board of Trustees to reverse their decision, for wisdom and direction for the 13 campus ministries that are taking a stand regarding this policy, and for the Christian students and faculty affected by this policy.
Below is an extended quote from the Cru position paper (the entire paper can be read here).
Why is Cru at Vanderbilt continuing to have faith-based leadership requirements?
[Because] the interests of diversity support it. We believe that the desire for diversity that many universities articulate, including Vanderbilt, is best served by student groups that maintain diverse perspectives. The thinking of individuals is best sharpened when different, well-reasoned outlooks are consistently and passionately represented in a respectful manner. It is not well served when many viewpoints are gradually merging with the mainstream perspective because the proponents of less popular beliefs are unable to preserve and promote them.
We believe it is inappropriate for a University to impose its particular values on RSOs instead of allowing for diversity among organizations that represent strongly a variety of viewpoints. It is wonderful to see diversity within the membership of each student group, and it is also wonderful to see diversity among the perspectives represented by those student groups. We believe both are possible if groups are able to maintain their voices through the selection of leaders that believe their group’s purpose and yet are expected to be respectful and welcoming as their groups participate in the marketplace of ideas on campus.
When religious voices are diluted or even forbidden from being clearly represented, it does a disservice to the goals of diversity at Vanderbilt. The leaders are the group’s primary voice, both internally to its members and externally to the University community. A committed leader can determine whether a group thrives or withers. Religious student groups need to be allowed to maintain their unique religious identities.
In fact, when the messages of religious groups are not able to be preserved, the university will end up violating its own nondiscrimination policy. It will discriminate against any religious groups that hold to well-defined doctrines, and will end up suppressing unpopular or minority religious viewpoints. Religious diversity cannot remain in such an environment.