The student organization registration process at Vanderbilt University ended this week with more than 400 student groups registering in compliance with the school’s nondiscrimination policy, according to a release from the university.
Registration for the 2012-13 academic year ends during a week in which some, both inside and outside of the Vanderbilt community, have again raised opposition to the school’s policy.
In a release Wednesday, university officials state that 26 religious student groups have qualified as registered student organizations while currently 14 other religious organizations have said they are unwilling or unable to comply with the nondiscrimination policy.
Questions about how the university’s nondiscrimination policy impacts student organizations arose last year — and led to a contentious town hall meeting earlier this year — after a member of a registered student organization made an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation. As a result of that allegation, university administrators informed the student organizations of their need to comply with the university’s nondiscrimination policy.
The policy, according to school administration, requires that all Vanderbilt students must be eligible for membership in registered student organizations and that all members in good standing must be allowed to offer themselves for leadership positions — leaders are then chosen by the organizations.
“We are pleased that Vanderbilt continues to offer our students a wide variety of registered student organizations that represent the diversity of our students and their interests,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard McCarty said in a release. “It is reassuring that many of our current religious organizations understand that our nondiscrimination policy poses no threat to their religious freedom. All along, we have stressed that the policy is about rejecting discrimination and not about restricting religious freedom. We firmly believe the two principles can coexist on the Vanderbilt campus, and are gratified that many of our religious student organizations agree.”
The university has received a total of 469 submissions from student groups seeking registered student organization status. Some groups, which submitted applications with technical problems that are expected to be corrected, will be registered in the coming days. Although the official application deadline has passed, the Office of the Dean of Students has said it will continue to accept applications into the summer months.