This evening, Vanderbilt University will hold a town hall “discussion” about its new nondiscrimination policy that prevents belief-based student groups from making belief-based decisions about their leadership. Vanderbilt effectively is discriminating against political and religious groups that seek to promote a common message. Vanderbilt has told students that their organizations are engaging in prohibited discrimination if they require that leaders of the Vanderbilt College Democrats be Democrats, that Christian groups be Christian, that Muslim groups be Muslim, that single-sex singing groups maintain their identity, or that political publications exclude students who do not share their views.

This is huge news at Vanderbilt—it dominated the first page of yesterday’s Vanderbilt Hustler, Vandy’s main college newspaper, and its counterpart InsideVandy.com. But you wouldn’t know it from the reaction of Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos and the Vanderbilt administration, which has stubbornly refused to respond to basic questions about its new policy, such as “If a leader of Vanderbilt’s Muslim Student Assocation were to convert to Christianity, would the group be required to keep him or her as a leader, despite the fact that he or she is no longer Muslim?” That’s the logical outcome of the policy that Vanderbilt is now choosing.

The policy would also force the College Democrats to accept Republicans as members, since the policy affects all belief-based student groups, including political organizations. None of this makes a lick of sense, of course, and if I were Chancellor Zeppos, I would do everything I could to avoid having to answer questions about these scenarios and others like them.

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