May 4, 2012
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has vetoed a measure that could have exempted campus religious groups from Vanderbilt University's controversial "all-comers" rule, CBN News reports. The university calls the rule a "nondiscrimination" policy, but it requires campus groups to allow any student to join and hold leadership positions, regardless of their beliefs. Haslam admitted in his veto that he disagreed with the policy, but said it was "inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution." A group of Vanderbilt student religious organizations have been waging a public battle to reverse the policy, and opponents of the policy say lawmakers should get involved because Vanderbilt receives significant funding from the government -- 24 million from the state and half a billion from the federal government, according to Vanderbilt legal professor Carol Swain. "I'm hoping that the fact they get so much federal money would be a way that legislators at the state and federal levels would be able to step into the situation and at least be heard by university officials," she said. A Vanderbilt spokesman said the school was "gratified" the governor rejected the bill that would allow government intrusion into private institutions.