Four student religious organizations at Vanderbilt University may be in jeopardy following a review by the school’s administration that takes issue with the groups requiring their leaders share the groups’ core religious beliefs.
The Christian groups in question — Graduate Christian Fellowship, Christian Legal Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Sigma Phi Lamda — were placed on provisional status in April after the Office of the Dean of Students concluded that the organizations were not in compliance with the university’s nondiscrimination policy.
The noncompliance issue is the same for the four groups. Each group’s constitution contains a clause which restricts leadership positions to individuals who share the group’s core religious beliefs. The university is in the process of determining whether these clauses violate the school’s nondiscrimination policy; until a determination is made, the groups will retain provisional status.
Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Assessment Patricia Helland confirmed the university initially told the four religious organizations to remove provisions from their constitutions that restricted leadership positions, but has now backed away from the position following feedback from those organizations.
“People have come back to us and said ‘what do you mean? This is faith based. This is our values. If we change that, we are not who we are’ and what we’ve done is we’ve listened,” Helland said. “We are looking at what all the issues are to make a decision.”