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 September 2014, more than 492 student groups had complied with the policy and been conferred registered student organization status. Of this number, 25 were registered religious student groups. Eight unregistered religious student groups had provided the necessary information to the Office of Reservations and Events in order to reserve meeting space on campus. The registration process is underway for 2015.
Vanderbilt respects our students' right to their beliefs. Nonregistered student groups are 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.
Organizations choose their own leaders. The university requires that all students be eligible for membership and be eligible to run for leadership positions. Leaders are chosen by their fellow members.
The university supports 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.
Office of Religious Life
The Rev. Mark Forrester is the director of the Office of Religious Life and is university chaplain. He has served in this role since Sept. 1, 2012.
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, Georgia.
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.