Public All Comers Policy Gets Off the Ground in Tennessee


Anti-discrimination student policies similar to one at Vanderbilt University would be banned under a bill that passed its first legislative test last night. The sponsor says just because public colleges haven’t adopted all-comers policies doesn’t mean they won’t.

Requiring that any student can join any campus club and even hold leadership positions has become popular among elite, private schools. Vanderbilt began enforcing an all-comers rule after a gay student was kicked out of a Christian organization.

David Fowler of Family Action of Tennessee says he could see the same happening at public institutions, several of which have been more open to same-sex relationships by wanting to extend benefits to partners.

“We’ve seen how the votes of faculty at our state colleges – at the University of Memphis and Knoxville – have been. So it’s just a matter of time before someone brings this issue up,” Fowler said.

Lawmakers on the House Education Subcommittee did ask if they might be creating more problems than they were solving. Still they advanced the legislation 7 - 2.

Last year Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed an all-comers ban directed at Vanderbilt, which is a private institution. This year’s legislation only includes public colleges.

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