TN Bill to Strip Police Powers ‘Unbelievable’ to Vanderbilt


State lawmakers are threatening to pull the rug out from under Vanderbilt University’s police force of 90 sworn officers. It’s a roundabout way to overturn a controversial non-discrimination policy on campus.

So-called “all-comers” rules have attracted the ire of conservative Christians who fear religious student groups will be forced to accept members who don’t believe the way they do.

David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee wants lawmakers to take away Vanderbilt’s police powers unless it rescinds the all-comers rule. He says a private intuition shouldn’t have such authority anyway.

“There is nothing this bill is forcing anybody to give up that they arguably have any constitutional right to have,”Fowler said.

The legislation is sponsored by some of the most ideological members of the General Assembly. The university is taking the threat seriously, sending folks like Vanderbilt police chief August Washington to the state capitol.

“We’re talking about heightening safety and heightening security so we can be comfortable in our communities,” Washington said. “So I have to tell you that I find it unbelievable that we would be considering this.”

Last year, Governor Bill Haslam vetoed a bill that tried to single out Vanderbilt by withholding state funding.

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