11 More Vanderbilt Student Groups Revolt over New Discriminatory Policy

Adam Kissel, TheFIRE

After Vanderbilt University issued a new, discriminatory policy that prevents religious student groups from maintaining belief-based membership and leadership requirements, 11 Vanderbilt student organizations have refused to accept second-class status at the university because of their beliefs. Organized together as Vanderbilt Solidarity, these organizations have applied for recognition as belief-based groups. Their decision follows the choice of the student group Vanderbilt Catholic to accept self-exile by no longer officially registering with Vanderbilt rather than lose its unique identity.

Vanderbilt has refused to permit belief-based groups to maintain their missions despite significant national outrage, including intervention by FIRE and many others. Although Vanderbilt is a private university, it promises fundamental expressive rights to its students, and this revolt by a dozen student organizations demonstrates once again that Vanderbilt has broken its promise and its moral obligation to allow students to organize around shared beliefs, letting Christians be Christians, Muslims be Muslims, and atheists be atheists.

Inside Vandy has the story.


Adam Kissel is Vice President of Programs at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. He graduated from Harvard University and from the University of Chicago, where he served as Student Liaison to the Board of Trustees and earned a master’s degree from the Committee on Social Thought. His academic interests include the history and theory of liberal education, the history and theory of rhetoric, and rhetoric’s relationship with philosophy. He also has served as a professional editor for faculty in a variety of disciplines. Before joining FIRE, Adam was a director of the Lehrman American Studies Center and the Jack Miller Center for the Teaching of America’s Founding Principles. With Sharon Browne he wrote a Faculty Rights Handbook in 2007.


Used with the permission of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.