This letter was originally written to the parents and alumni of the Nu Chapter of BYX at Vanderbilt University.
Brant Bonetti (2011 President) and Alex Whitmore (2012 President) have done a fantastic job of keeping each of you up to date with the happenings at Vanderbilt University. I wanted to take the opportunity to write you myself as Executive Director of BYX and assure each of you that I personally have been working with the officers of the Vanderbilt BYX chapter on a weekly basis since the Spring of 2010. Last Friday, Chancellor Zeppos in an email to all of the Vanderbilt students and faculty announced the change in policy that will affect every religious organization on campus. In the email, the Chancellor said the following:
“I want to assure you the university does not seek to limit anyone’s freedom to practice his or her religion. We do, however require all Vanderbilt registered student organizations to observe our nondiscrimination policy. That means membership in registered student organizations is open to everyone and that everyone, if desired, has the opportunity to seek leadership positions.”
Vanderbilt officials have explicitly told BYX that while we may maintain our core beliefs as a Christian fraternity, we may not require anyone in the fraternity to agree or adhere to those core beliefs. BYX has always been a fraternity in which anyone is able to come to our open parties and events, and any young man is able to come and seek membership through rush. Through our process of interviews during rush with young men, we learn about their history and their faith journey with Christ. The interview process is essential to maintaining the core of Beta Upsilon Chi as our founders intended. Young men who are seeking to fulfill the purpose of BYX and desire to further their relationship with Christ and their brothers are offered bids to become pledges of Beta Upsilon Chi. Vanderbilt officials have told us that we may no longer require those seeking membership in our fraternity to desire the purpose of BYX or desire to further their relationship with Christ, and that we may no longer require this of our leaders either.
Earlier this week, I traveled to Nashville to encourage the brothers. My time with the chapter on Monday night was exceptional. The Vanderbilt chapter of Beta Upsilon Chi excels in the vision and purpose of BYX. The leaders and members are passionate about their faith, passionate about BYX, and love to have God-glorifying fun while pursuing the Christian life together. I was delighted to watch each pledge class performing its pledge dance at the end of the chapter meeting on Monday. BYX is truly a safe place for the brothers to grow in their relationship with Christ and one another. In my 8 years serving as Executive Director of BYX, I have not witnessed such brotherhood and unity in Christ as was present in the attitude and actions of the brothers of our Vanderbilt chapter. I am proud to serve these men.
I also wanted to assure all of the parents of members, alumni brothers, and members of the Vanderbilt chapter that nationally we will continue to support the Vanderbilt chapter no matter what happens in the days ahead. BYX is not the Vanderbilt administration’s to give or take away. BYX is the Lord’s and He has given us the opportunity to steward and lead this fraternity. The university can not prevent the Lord from changing lives through the fraternity of BYX. They can not prevent BYX brothers from going to cell group and they can not prevent BYX from meeting for chapter and throwing the best parties the Vanderbilt community has available to it.
I ask that you remember BYX in your prayers in the coming days. On Tuesday, January 31 from 6:15 to 7:45 PM in Furman Hall Room 114, the university will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the new policy. If you live in Nashville, I would encourage you to attend. If you are unable to attend, I would ask you to consider withholding your financial gifts to Vanderbilt University and communicating the reason therefor to the university administration. If you would like to express your concern for the new Vanderbilt policy that will affect every religious organization on campus in their choosing of members and leaders, I would encourage you to call or email:
The days ahead seem to be challenging for the religious community at Vanderbilt and for BYX. The religious community at Vanderbilt across all religions seem to be uniting together like we have never seen. We believe that God is not surprised by this and that He has shown Himself faithful to us throughout the last two years and will ultimately bring glory to His name through these challenges. I can assure you that our Board of Directors and each of our Vanderbilt officers have handled themselves with the highest integrity throughout these difficult circumstances and we will continue to do so.
In One Spirit,