Deja Vu All Over Again

On Monday The Weekly Standard posted an article about religious freedom at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

The article reports:

Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts has banned a Christian group from campus because the group requires student leaders to adhere to “basic biblical truths of Christianity.” The decision to ban the group, called the Tufts Christian Fellowship, was made by officials from the university’s student government, specifically the Tufts Community Union Judiciary.

The ban means the group “will lose the right to use the Tufts name in its title or at any activities, schedule events or reserve university space through the Office for Campus Life,” according to the Tufts Daily. Additionally, Tufts Christian Fellowship will be unable to receive money from a pool that students are required to pay into and that is specifically set aside for student groups.

This is nothing new.  On March 30, I posted an article about a similar problem at Vanderbilt University (rightwinggranny.com). I reported what had happened at Vanderbilt:

Vandy Catholic — a student group with some 500 members — has decided it cannot agree to the policy and will be leaving campus in the fall. PJ Jedlovec, the president of Vandy Catholic, says it was a difficult decision, one made after much prayer and discussion. 

“We are first and foremost a Catholic organization,” says Jedlovec. “We do, in fact, have qualifications – faith-based qualifications for leadership. We require that our leaders be practicing Catholics. And the university’s nondiscrimination policy — they have made it clear that there is no room in it for an organization that has these faith-based qualifications.”

The whole purpose of a group on campus is to allow students with similar interests and ideas to get together to discuss and explore those interests and ideas. It seems to me that every group meeting on campus probably has leadership that represents the interests and ideas of the group. This is clearly a violation of the First Amendment rights of these students.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Choosing Leaders For A Club

Does an organization have the right to set standards for its leadership? For example, if a school starts a ‘scholarship club’ to encourage students to get better grades, should it require its leaders to be honor roll students? Would it be ok for a “D” student to lead a scholarship club? Would that be the example or the image the club would want to put forward? Does every organization have the right to have standards for its leadership?

That is the question now under discussion at Vanderbilt University. Fox News reported yesterday that the University has a policy that states groups cannot have faith or belief-based requirements for leadership. The logical outcome of this policy is that an atheist could run for president of a Christian group, a Jew for president of a Muslim group, or a non-Catholic for president of a Catholic group. Obviously, this would create more problems than it would solve.

The article reports:

All student groups must register next month. As part of the registration, they must sign a statement of affirmation that they will abide by the nondiscrimination policy.

Vandy Catholic — a student group with some 500 members — has decided it cannot agree to the policy and will be leaving campus in the fall. PJ Jedlovec, the president of Vandy Catholic, says it was a difficult decision, one made after much prayer and discussion. 

“We are first and foremost a Catholic organization,” says Jedlovec. “We do, in fact, have qualifications – faith-based qualifications for leadership. We require that our leaders be practicing Catholics. And the university’s nondiscrimination policy — they have made it clear that there is no room in it for an organization that has these faith-based qualifications.”

The article also mentions that these requirements do not apply to fraternities and sororities on campus.

The article concludes:

As a private university, Vanderbilt is allowed to make rules that might not pass muster at a public institution. In fact, Tennessee lawmakers are working on legislation that would specifically prohibit state universities from extending nondiscrimination policies to student religious groups. 

In another attempt to change the school administration’s mind, other religious groups on campus plan to sign the statement of affirmation, then submit charters that clearly outline a faith-based criteria for leadership.

That will likely provoke another confrontation with Vanderbilt leadership — one that may see more religious student groups leave.

Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of our country. If it is not taught and modeled in our colleges, we will lose it within a generation.

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Do College Clubs Have The Right To Set Their Own Rules ?

Library of Congress Photo, Kissam Hall, Vander...

Image via Wikipedia

On Wednesday, CBN News reported that Vanderbilt University has put four groups on provisional status because their bylaws include requirements like Bible study and worship. The school is conducting a review of student groups to make sure all groups are in compliance with their non-discrimination policy. The review is the result of the fact that an openly gay student was kicked out of the Christian fraternity Beta Upsilon Chi last year.

The article reports:

Justin Gunter, president of the CLS (Christian Legal Society) chapter, said he was shocked when the school brought up the issue since there seems to be so much religious diversity and acceptance on campus.

“Up until now, the campus had been very welcoming of religious individuals,” he explained.

“These rules essentially will reduce the religious diversity on campus overall,” Gunter said. “Religious groups now can’t even say that we want a Christian group to be led by a Christian, a Muslim group to be led by a Muslim.”

Vanderbilt University was founded by the Methodist Church. It has definitely wandered from its roots–last year the university made the decision to recognize Wiccan holidays.

This university has Christian roots. There is no reason why they have to limit the freedom of Christians in order to be ‘diverse.’ Simply allowing the Christian groups to follow their beliefs in setting up their organizations is not discrimination–it is respect for the beliefs of the organization.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta