campus life

Should Vanderbilt Let the Beta Upsilon Chi Frat Kick Out Gays While Remaining An Official Student Group?

Thank goodness Nashville’s Vanderbilt University now has its own chapter of gay fraternity Delta Lambda Phi, because its existing Christian frat Beta Upsilon Chi made clear there’s no room for gays. Two unidentified now-former brothers say they were pushed out because of their sexuality.

The claims arrived in the student newspaper The Vanderbilt Hustler (ahem!), with the two men — one a student who graduated from Vanderbilt this year and the other a current student who was forced out of the frat in August — saying their sexuality was the only reason they were “deactivated” (Greek speak for leaving a fraternal group).

The alum says Greg Wigger, Nu chapter president of the frat (aka “Brothers Under Christ,” or BYX) confronted him about his sexuality in April in the alum’s dorm room after rumors went around he “might be struggling with homosexuality.” After saying he was gay, the alum says Wigger told him the matter would stay between the two of them, but 10 days later the alum was informed he was being deactivated. The second now-former frat brother says he also had a conversation with Wigger, and was told his sexuality would prevent him from staying with the frat; he could either voluntarily leave of be expelled. He chose the former.

What basis does Wigger and Beta Upsilon Chi — which faced a hazing investigation earlier this year — have for ousting gay brothers? “We believe that sex is a gift of God to be enjoyed only inside the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman,” says BYX’s Code of Conduct. “Therefore, we will not condone such activity as homosexuality, fornication, or adultery. (I Corinthians 6:15-20; Hebrew 13:4).” Except the frat is a registered religious/spiritual student organization, which means it must abide from Vanderbilt’s own anti-discrimination policy, which specifically bars “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, in compliance with Federal law, including the provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”

Wigger isn’t answering interview questions. And Mark Bandas, the school’s students dean, says allegations in a student paper aren’t enough to act — a formal complaint must be filed. That administrators won’t take the lead and initiate at least an informal investigation based on claims of anti-gay discrimination is, frankly, ridiculous. (Would they react the same way to claims students were kicked out because they were black?)

But what if these two students file a formal complaints … then what?

Can an anti-gay Christian frat exist within a university committed to fighting discrimination? Sure. Just don’t formally recognize them as a student group or a member of Vanderbilt’s Greek community; don’t provide any student funds; do not let them use university (and thus, partially taxpayer-funded) property or resources. See, when you create an organization that actively discriminates against an entire group of people, you are not rewarded with privileges. You are stripped of them. It’s not an infringement on religious freedom. It is the mandatory protection of basic civil rights.

(NB: This wouldn’t be Vanderbilt’s first recent brush with anti-gay controversy: Muslim Chaplain Awadh A. Binhazim says he “doesn’t have a choice” but to support Islam’s belief in killing gays.)

[top photo via]