Much has been written about the town hall experience since it happened on Tuesday. The Hustler provided a good summary of what went on that night. But reading accounts and opinions isn’t quite like watching the full three hours.
At the meeting, Provost McCarty and Vice Chancellor Williams didn’t introduce a nondiscrimination policy, but rather an “all-comers” policy à la CLS v. Martinez.
By setting CLS v. Martinez as their precedent, the administration opened up a can of worms. They were forced to admit that Greek life will have to be reconsidered under an “all-comers” policy, for the Supreme Court ruling sits above Title IX regulation, including its exemptions. And the Greek membership selection process runs afoul of a true “all-comers” policy. Again, because Vanderbilt is a private institution, there are no legal ramifications to any of these decisions they’re making. Until now, Vanderbilt chose to observe Title IX exemptions for Greek life. But now that they’re talking about “all-comers,” it’s for their own benefit to be consistent.
If they choose to continue to protect the Greek community under Title IX, then, in the words of Vice Chancellor Williams:
“If, in fact, we take the choice as a university to create that exception, we are duty bound to look at other exceptions as well.”
Exceptions for other communities, such as the religious one on campus?
(see 2:53:00 in the video)
At the meeting, the students’ primary legitimate concern, once you waded through religious and legal rhetoric floating in the room, was the lack of a coherent summary of the policy’s applications. This concern was, thankfully, properly presented and addressed. On Tuesday night, Vice Chancellor Williams promised a written statement detailing the extent to which the policy will be applied. With this written document, student organizations can then decide whether they will be able to reapply for RSO status with a clear conscience.
Meanwhile, we on the Torch staff have a wide range of perspectives on the topic. Just as many support the university’s stance as oppose it—and for a multitude of reasons. We’re working on pulling these opinions together and organizing them to have something to share soon. Something that exemplifies all those happy qualities of diversity and dialogue and marketplace of ideas that we so love.