Nondiscrimination at Vanderbilt
Overview of Nondiscrimination at Vanderbilt
- The university's nondiscrimination policy applies to the entire Vanderbilt community, including all student groups – religious or otherwise – who wish to become officially recognized by the university as registered student organizations.
- As of Sept. 21, 2012, more than 480 student groups have complied with the policy and have been conferred registered student organization status. Of this number, 29 are religious student groups. About 15 religious student groups have said they disagree with how the policy is being applied and have chosen not to comply.
- Our recently named university chaplain, Mark Forrester, is reaching out to these groups to be sure that they can interact with and be a part of our student community without compromising the university's commitment to providing a welcoming environment for all who visit, live and work at Vanderbilt.
- Vanderbilt respects our students' right to their beliefs and has not forced off or exiled any group from campus. Nonregistered student groups are still welcome to meet on campus informally, reserve rooms without charge and rent spaces through the Office of Reservations and Events. Non-registered student groups may also communicate with students via email (including university email), social media (e.g. Facebook), and certain bulletin boards and kiosks on campus.
- Those student organizations which choose not to comply with the university's nondiscrimination policy are not eligible to be officially recognized by Vanderbilt as registered student organizations and are thus not entitled to certain privileges, including the use of the Vanderbilt University name to signify their institutional affiliation; eligibility to apply for funding from various sources; participation in university-sponsored events; use of listservs, group mail, and URLs administered by the university; and other resources.
- Complying with the university's nondiscrimination policy does not mean organizations will be forced to accept leaders who do not share their beliefs. Organizations will still be able to choose their own leaders – the university is simply requiring that all students be eligible for membership and be eligible to run for leadership positions. Leaders will be chosen by their fellow members.
- The university will continue to support religious services free of charge in Benton Chapel in order to meet the worship needs of all students, be they members of registered groups or otherwise.
- The university's stance regarding nondiscrimination is not new. Vanderbilt has long been committed to providing a welcoming environment for all who visit, live and work on our campus.
More on the Rev. Mark Forrester:
- On Sept. 1, 2012, he assumed the position of university chaplain and director of the Office of Religious Life.
- The mission of Vanderbilt's Office of Religious Life is educational, not only for the students and groups who are traditionally religious, but also for the student body at large through consideration of ethical questions and issues of value and character.
- Forrester has been an affiliated United Methodist chaplain and campus minister at Vanderbilt since 1994. Previously, he was a United Methodist campus minister and director of The Wesley Foundation at Austin Peay State University for three years.
- He served as an ordained deacon/elder under full-time appointment to the local church in Nashville, serving five local churches as minister and associate minister for eight years.
- A graduate of Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, Forrester earned a master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School and a doctor of ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga.
- He is a member of the National Campus Ministry Association and the United Methodist Campus Ministry Association and serves as a Tennessee Annual Conference District Board of Ordained Ministry mentor for professional students seeking candidacy and as a field education supervisor for students pursuing master of divinity and master of theological degrees at Vanderbilt Divinity School.