Jason Hoyt of the national Christian fraternity Beta Upsilon Chi has the story of what’s happening at the prominent Nashville university. Evidently inspired by the Supreme Court’s wrongheaded ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez in 2010, the university’s administration changed the student organization handbook in the fall of that year, in order to impose an absurd “no-discrimination” principle on student groups that constitute themselves precisely by reference to their religious beliefs. Hence a Christian student group cannot limit its membership or the privilege of officeholding to Christian students. This cannot be any reasonable person’s idea of what it means for students to associate freely with one another.
Like most private universities in this country, Vanderbilt had a kind of Christian founding. Though it appears never to have been sectarian, its founder was a Methodist bishop, and the university’s first chancellor (the officer who would be called president in most places) preached sermons to the student body in the chapel . I dare say that in the 1880s, when Chancellor Garland was running the show, there was more real freedom on campus than there is now. The fashionable oppressions of our own day can hardly be called progress.