Vanderbilt Listens to Students Complaints over Policy

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Critics of Vanderbilt University's controversial new non-discrimination policy got a chance to voice their concerns to school administrators recently at a town hall meeting.

Under the policy, any student must be allowed to seek leadership positions in campus-approved organizations at the university in Nashville, Tenn.

But Christian groups say the policy violates their right to be led by fellow believers who share their views.

Vanderbilt has placed InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and and three other campus Christian groups on provisional status until each complies with Vanderbilt's anti-discrimination policy.

A video of a recent town hall meeting, aired on Youtube, shows an exchange between concerned Christian students and school administrators.

"I'm a little confused by the fact that under your policy, I can gather with a group of my friends or a group of like minded people. I can state my beliefs. But as soon as I go as far as writing down what we believe in and then trying to live by them as a community on campus, then I'm not allowed to do that," one student said.

Vice Chancellor David Williams told the students that Vanderbilt's nondiscrimination policy means any student is free to join and seek a leadership position, regardless of such factors as the student's race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. But the individual members of every group have the right to elect the leaders of their choice.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has asked for prayer from its alumni "in support of religious freedom at Vanderbilt."

"We love the university environment, and we welcome all students and faculty into our chapter activities at Vanderbilt," wrote Jim Lundgren, senior vice president for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA in a letter to Vanderbilt alums.

"However, it is essential that InterVarsity student leaders be committed Christians who understand their faith as they seek to lead their peers," he said. "No organization of any kind can survive without leaders committed to its basic beliefs."

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