Religious groups at Vanderbilt say policy unfair - WSMV News 4

Religious groups at Vanderbilt say policy unfair

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Student groups at Vanderbilt University are being asked not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Now some Christian groups say they are being singled out by the new policy.

All this started last year on campus, when a gay student said he was kicked out of a Christian fraternity because of his sexual orientation.

Vanderbilt officials require that registered student organizations' constitutions be in compliance with the university's non-discrimination policy, including non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the organizations must sign a statement that they will comply with the policy.

But now some Christian groups feel they are the ones being discriminated against.

"They are trying to get away from the stereotypical Southern, white, rich, Christian stereotype and make it a lot more diverse," student Stephen Siao said.

Vanderbilt says eight student organizations are not in compliance with the university's non-discrimination policy. Five of them are religious student groups.

Siao's group, College Republicans, is not one of the groups in question, but he knows of some Christian organizations who are concerned about the policy because it would affect who can lead their groups.

"They are making it so groups cannot require their officers to be of the same religious beliefs, same core beliefs," Siao said.

Siao thinks this is Vanderbilt's way of diversifying its growing campus but at the expense of its Christian values.

"They are really just chipping away Christianity a little at a time. I mean, it's the founding faith of the country. They don't attack it all at once, but they start chipping away a little at a time and that's obviously what they are doing here," Siao said.

Kenny Tan, is the president of the Libertarian group on campus.

"What they asked our organization to do was different than what they asked religious organizations to do," he said.

Tan said last semester they were asked to change their constitution, adding in the policy that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"I believe that student organizations should be able to discriminate on the basis of religious or political belief. Now whether or not those student organizations should continue to get funding would be another issue," Tan said.

That is just the issue here. If those eight student organizations aren't in compliance with the university's nondiscrimination policy, they could lose school funding.

Right now, Vanderbilt has placed those organizations on a provisional status until a solution is reached.

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