The Center for Law & Religious Freedom

CONTACT: PIETER VALK, (423) 914-6258


Vanderbilt students go viral with religious freedom message


4,000 MP4 players to be distributed featuring video appeal
to restore university’s religious freedom policy

NASHVILLE - This week, Vanderbilt University students are once again urging the university to return to its historic position of respect for student groups’ freedom of religious association--only this time, they are doing so via video.

On April 9, 11 religious student organizations at Vanderbilt University--fervently desiring to remain on campus--applied for renewal of their status as official student organizations for the upcoming school year; however, because the university recently changed its longstanding policies, the groups likely will be denied registration and forced off campus.

On Wednesday, April 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CDT, the students will distribute 4,000 MP4 players to students, faculty, and staff from 10 locations on Vanderbilt’s campus. These players feature a seven-minute video presenting the response of Vanderbilt students, faculty, staff, and alumni to the administration’s unprecedented refusal to allow religious student organizations the right to preserve their voice and message through requiring their leaders to believe the faith the group promotes.

The video highlights how the administration has changed its nondiscrimination policy at least twice in recent months and how it selectively enforces its newest policy against religious groups while allowing fraternities and sororities to discriminate on any basis in selecting leaders and members.

Meanwhile, the students are also delivering the message-carrying MP4 players to the members of Vanderbilt’s Board of Trustees, who will be meeting on campus at the end of this week. The represented groups hope that this appeal from students will prompt the board to restore Vanderbilt’s longstanding policy of allowing religious students the opportunity to preserve their communities of faith that are so important to them during their time at the university.

Through these efforts to promote and distribute their video message, the students seek to emphasize a simple point: if Vanderbilt University truly values religious freedom and wishes to attract and serve religious students, then it should again allow religious student groups to reserve leadership to those who share their faith. Until mere months ago, Vanderbilt’s policies always explicitly protected this essential freedom. It should now restore that protection.

The video contained on the MP4 players will also be available for viewing on the Internet at and beginning Wednesday at 8 a.m. CDT.