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Vanderbilt Christian fraternity removes gays

Beta Upsilon Chi members claim unfair treatment based on sexual orientation

November 9, 2010 O&AN Staff Reports   Comments

According to Vanderbilt University's student publication, The Hustler, two former members of the university's Beta Upsilon Chi chapter say they were asked to leave the fraternity in recent months due to violations of the organization’s policy regarding sexual orientation. 

Established in 2003, Beta Upsilon Chi is a registered religious/spiritual student organization and a Christian fraternity on Vanderbilt’s campus.

A former Beta Upsilon Chi brother and Vanderbilt 2010 alumnus sent an email to the Hustler saying that he was approached last spring by fraternity president Greg Wigger about his role in the fraternity. According to this alumnus, the discussion turned to the issue of his sexual orientation, and he admitted to Wigger that he was gay.

According to The Hustler, another member of the brotherhood left the fraternity in August of this year for similar reasons. The former member, who also wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that Wigger offered him a choice to exit the fraternity or face expulsion after a discussion regarding his sexual orientation.

Neither the Beta Upsilon Chi chapter president at Vanderbilt nor the organization’s national director would comment on the matter.

The Hustler obtained the fraternity's Code of Conduct, which states its beliefs regarding sexuality in the second clause of the document: “We believe that sex is a gift of God to be enjoyed only inside the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Therefore, we will not condone such activity as homosexuality, fornication, or adultery. (I Corinthians 6:15-20; Hebrew 13:4).”

As noted on the Vanderbilt's website, student organizations must abide by its anti-discriminatory policy, which states that all student organizations must “refrain from discriminating in membership selection, officer or adviser appointments, or practices of organizational activities on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or sexual orientation."

Mark Bandas, Vanderbilt associate provost and dean of students, explained in an email to Out & About Newspaper that all student organizations are under strict instructions from the university, and could face disciplinary action as a result of discrimination against members.

"The University has a non-discrimination policy," he said. "By registering with the Office of Student Organizations and Governance, a student organization agrees to abide by our policies. We expect student organizations operating on our campus to follow our policies. Student organizations that violate our policies are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including loss of registration. 

He added, "Students who believe that they are victims of discrimination as a result of being in one of the protected classifications are encouraged to file a complaint with the Office of the Dean of Students. At this point in time we have not received a formal complaint about this matter."

Out & About Newspaper will share more information on this story as details are made available.

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