Why?

03.06.13

Tennessee Wants to Punish Vanderbilt for a Nondiscrimination Policy

Video screenshot

A bill going through the Tennessee legislature would take away the right for Vanderbilt University police to make arrests.

The reason? The Tennessee Family Action Council, an Evangelical Christian group says that the University’s nondiscrimination policy discriminates against religious Christians.

How? Because the policy forces campus sanctioned Christian organizations to allow gay people to join them. The state pulling the University’s police force would be a kind of sanction against Vanderbilt. As Professor Carol Swain of Vanderbilt (although not speaking on their behalf) argued:

"This university is operating in a way that’s counter to everything that many of us have believed about America and about our freedoms, and I think they have to be held accountable. We cannot have situation in this state where there’s an institution that’s a bully that gets away with whatever it wants to get away with."

I fail to see the correlation between student safety and nondiscrimination policies (that are actually discriminatory?). The Vanderbilt Police Chief August Washington responded to the bill, stating that:

“What I’m interested in is public safety. I find it unbelievable,” he said. “I just find it unbelievable during this time when we talk about public safety and the importance of it and the number of campus-type shootings … we’re talking about heightening safety and security so we can be comfortable in our communities, so I have to tell you I do find it unbelievable that we would be considering this.”

This is the second time the Tennessee Legislature has tried to ban the nondiscrimination policy. Last year, a bill made it through the legislature that would outlaw the all-comers policy. Luckily, it was vetoed by Governor Bill Haslam.