By John Pierce

 Vanderbilt University’s new non-discrimination policy for student organizations is stupid. A school of such intellectual prominence should be able to see more clearly.

On the surface, a non-discrimination policy makes sense. It would be tragic to think that someone gets turned away from attending a meeting because of race, gender or any other mark of discrimination.

But Vandy goes way too far by insisting that membership and leadership must be open to all persons regardless of religious beliefs or other factors. That’s stupid.

If this rule is enforced, then just have one big, official student group that everyone can join and lead — with no distinct characteristics.

Having spent 13 years in campus ministry on state university campuses, I know the dynamics. And the administrators of the public universities where I served knew me as a defender of religious liberty, individual rights and acts of inclusion.

Throughout those years I sought to create a wide-open door for anyone to engage in our programs. But it defies common sense to create a policy that makes Catholic-only leadership of a Catholic student group or Jewish-only leadership of Hillel look like the Klan.

That is especially true, and highly ironic, when the entire Greek system is based on selective and exclusionary practices.

It seems that the place when discrimination is showing up most on campus is in the attitude of administrators toward religious groups.

For those of us who advocate for greater inclusion of and respect for all persons, this doesn’t help at all. In fact, it is just stupid.



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