Don Quixote de la Vanderbilt

by Jeff Gissing | @jeffgissing

They’re tilting at windmills again! Thirteen campus ministries are continuing their attempt to get Vanderbilt to reverse its decision to implement an all-comers policy for determining qualification to lead a student organization. As I understand it, the policy prohibits religious groups from using religious criteria to select their leaders. It has effectively revoked university recognition for more than ten student groups.

The saga continued this week with the publication of an Open Letter to the university. Personally, I have never seen the point of Open Letters (but that’s just me). Here it is:


It is challenging to believe that university will reverse itself based on this letter. Parents, alumni, and donors of the university have expressed concern over the policy–to now avail. The Tennessee legislature passed a bill threatening state funding to the university. They had their bluff called by the university aided by the Governor who (not unreasonably) vetoed the bill.

Do InterVarsity, et al, really believe that they can prevail against an institution with the money, influence, and time that Vanderbilt enjoys (the university has the money and influence to outlast a protest movement)?

I haven’t the faintest idea. However, I do know a couple of things.

  • First, it is never wrong to fight for what is right though it may cost a great deal.
  • Second, truth is stronger that falsehood. Regardless of the outcome truth will, in the end, prevail.
  • Third, the Christian God specializes in using the marginal to overcome the powerful, using folly to outsmart the wise, and using the weak to defat the strong.

I guess that means that, in the end, the Don Quixotes of Vanderbilt have more going for them than one might think.

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