I’d like to join VSG, but I go to church on Wednesday nights

Holding VSG Senate and committee meetings on Wednesday nights prevents Christian representation in the governing body

I’d like to run for VSG Senate, or join a VSG Committee. I’d like to have discussions with the involved, intelligent, and passionate group that makes up VSG. I’d like to take the complaints, concerns and ideas I hear all around me from my brilliant peers to VSG meetings and present them. I’d like to be a part of VSG, but I can’t.

Why? I meet the qualifications, I am willing and excited to complete the responsibilities, and I have support from the peers who would elect me or select me to join a committee. I am not, however, free on Wednesday nights.

I can’t “just go on Sunday” because it’s not the same service, and it’s not intended to be.

I know what you’re thinking – That’s a stupid reason! Just move whatever you have planned on Wednesdays, or quit that activity entirely. But what I do on Wednesdays is go to church, to participate in worship and lead a small group of sixth grade girls. Before I found my church in Nashville, I attended Navs (a non-denominational campus ministry) on Wednesday nights. I am a Christian, and as a part of practicing my faith I am always going to be busy on Wednesday nights. I can’t move my commitment, nor would I want to. I certainly can’t quit going to church on Wednesdays, because that’s a huge part of how I connect to my faith every week. I can’t “just go on Sunday” because it’s not the same service, and it’s not intended to be. My church and my faith are designed to encourage believers to seek community more than once every seven days. And I’m nowhere near alone in this – at least four campus ministries (Navs, RUF, Cru, and University Catholic) hold Wednesday evening services with hundreds of collective attendees.

VSG wears its commitment to diversity like a badge of honor – and it should, if that commitment were truly upheld. Diversity means allowing students of every race, creed, background and belief an equal opportunity to participate in VSG. The VSG website states that the organization is “dedicated to engaging and supporting an increasingly diverse undergraduate community” and “devoted to ensuring that all Vanderbilt students have equal opportunities to pursue a fulfilling undergraduate experience.” I whole-heartedly agree with these statements, but I unfortunately feel that Christians on this campus are not afforded the same equal opportunity.

even if it’s not intentional, 2-hour-long VSG Senate meetings at 7 p.m. and hour-long VSG Committee meetings at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays are a punishment.

I am fully aware that in the past, Christians (especially white, male Christians) have been over-represented in positions of leadership, both at Vanderbilt and in the world. That fact does not mean that they should be punished today for the injustices perpetrated by their predecessors. And even if it’s not intentional, 2-hour-long VSG Senate meetings at 7 p.m. and hour-long VSG Committee meetings at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays are a punishment. They are a barrier to involvement, a barrier to equal opportunity, and a barrier to having a voice for so many practicing Christians at Vanderbilt.  

I am also aware that no matter what night you make VSG meetings, they may conflict with some form of religious gathering on or around Vanderbilt. However, Wednesdays are a very standardized and common night of worship within the Protestant Christian faith, and have been for decades. This is especially true here in Nashville, the city Vanderbilt calls home.

I’d like to be a part of VSG Senate. But I cannot both observe my faith AND be in VSG, and that’s a problem.

The 2017-2017 VSG Committee Member Application specifically asks applicants to block of 7:30-8:30PM on Wednesday nights for committee meetings.

Claire Barnett is the Multimedia Director of the Vanderbilt Hustler and a sophomore in Peabody College. She can be reached at claire.barnett@vanderbilt.edu. 

23 COMMENTS

  1. Have you considered joining a VSG branch or committee that does not meet on Wednesday nights? VSG Senate is not the only part of VSG. Perhaps community building, outreach, and diversity committee? You can also speak with the speaker of the Senate or any VSG member to discuss possible accommodations.

  2. I’m fairly confident the Bible only mandates “church” attendance on the first day of the week-Sunday. You’re choosing one club over another. Should Vanderbilt basketball cancel its events on Wednesday nights? Should the law school cancel its evening classes?

    Wednesday night is club night. You’ve chosen one club over another—not your religion over civic participation. Moreover, Monday is Greek chapter night, there are numerous night classes on Tuesday/Thursday, we all know Thursday is for the bars, Friday is Shabbat, and let’s not even get into the weekend.

    There’s nothing about VSG that is interfering with worshipping God or being a Christian. You’re choosing to write a self-righteous editorial because clubs plan their events on the same night.

    • I don’t believe the Bible “mandates” church attendance on any night of the week. It does encourage a focus on community and fellowship and a lot of that is in the form of engagement in worship and scripture with your peers. This is provided by campus organizations that meet on “club night”. But the other point in this argument is membership in other clubs is restricted because VSG takes over the “club” time slot.

      • What’s your point in writing your response? Are you disagreeing with Christian VSG Alum just to disagree??? Because CVA is definitely right on all points.

  3. Moving VSG meetings to accommodate your other commitments would just cause them to conflict with someone else’s commitments. Vandy is over-programmed as all hell and all of us have to make tough decisions on what to commit to. You prioritize your small group over VSG participation. Them’s the breaks. And I HIGHLY doubt that Christians are under-represented on VSG relative to…pretty much any other religion, tbh.

  4. Moving VSG meetings to accommodate your other commitments would just cause them to conflict with someone else’s commitments. Vandy is over-programmed as all hell and all of us have to make tough decisions on what to commit to. You prioritize your small group over VSG participation. Them’s the breaks. And I HIGHLY doubt that Christians are under-represented on VSG relative to…pretty much any other religion, tbh

  5. I’m involved in RUF on campus. You’re right. There are a ton of Christian orgs that all meet on Wednesday nights. It would be hard to understand that if you’re not involved in one. You’re right. It’s not the same and being involved in a ministry on campus isn’t the same as going to church and I don’t expect others to understand. And that’s awful. Honestly I don’t expect others to understand or change that though. Every single night there are continuous commitments and it’s unfortunate that they have to be overlapping with essentially any heavily involved Christian’s prior commitment. I’m glad you said something about it but I think we’re stuck on this one.

  6. With all do respect, Christian faith is not about going to church on sundays but rather pursuing Christ on your own terms. Faith is between you and God. The coincidence is unfortunate, and probably does not exist to cut out wednesday night Christian club members. However, this is no grounds to call someone out for being self righteous. She is just someone wanting to pursue Christ passionately and serve the people as well.

  7. Initially I wanted to write something incredibly rude and mean-spirited. But that probably wouldn’t help you realize how self-centered and out-of-touch this article is. Please, for the love of god, get over yourself. I don’t think that anyone with this much focus on the self has any business being involved in “governing.” I’m going to leave it at that because everything else in the tank is boorish and I’d hate to be un-christian on a Wednesday.

  8. Inclusion is extremely important. There is a difference between having to choose between participating in organizations, and not being able to do something because you’re being “punished” (as you said) or oppressed (as you implied).

    Alternate titles to consider:
    “I’d like to drive without fearing the police, but I’m black.”
    “I’d like to go out in public without being harassed, but I’m Muslim.”
    “I’d like to not have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered, but I’m a trans woman.”
    “I’d like to not have a 1 in 3 chance of being abused by my partner, but I’m a woman.”
    Joining VSG is not a basic human right, and going to church on Wednesday nights is not your identity.

    What clubs do you think should be allowed to meet on Wednesday nights?

  9. I LOVE NFL football. It centers me, I look forward to my team’s games all week, and I wouldn’t miss a Sunday game for most anything. You, Ms. Barnett, and I hold our weekly commitments (you, church service – me, NFL football) in high esteem. I don’t make this comparison to belittle your faith but rather to illustrate how important my Sunday commitment is to me, and I do it, of course, to illustrate a point. In life we have commitments, we have our preferences, and unfortunately we have but one life, one body, and one place to be at any given moment. These rigid circumstances force us to make decisions on how we allocate our time.

    That a conflict of VSG meetings with standard Protestant meeting times is a discrimination, a “punishment” or anything of the like is at worst self-righteous, and at best it is a gross misunderstanding of time, commitment, sacrifice, and the tough choices life puts forth for us.

  10. I am fully aware that in the past, Christians (especially white, male Christians) have been over-represented in positions of leadership, both at Vanderbilt and in the world. That fact does not mean that they should be punished today for the injustices perpetrated by their predecessors

  11. I really cannot comprehend what your goal was in writing this article. A white Christian saying you are “not afforded the same equal opportunity” is disrespectful to the people of other races and faiths that are dealing with entire institutions established to oppose them. Same equal opportunity as whom?
    To recognize that other days of the week pose conflicts for other religious groups, and STILL argue that the scheduling of VSG meetings is a “barrier to involvement, a barrier to equal opportunity, and a barrier to having a voice,” is the same as writing an article titled “my faith is superior to yours.” Where does that get us?

    • I think you don’t get what shes saying… the point is that vsg cant say it cares about equality for people of all backgrounds/identities/faiths, but then turn around and ignore a huge faith group on campus simply because that faith group has been historically privileged…thats like the opposite of actual equality. just because many minorities have legitimately had to deal with “entire institutions established to oppose them” doesnt mean that now christians should be on the receiving end of that unfair treatment

  12. Didn’t most of those student groups mentioned explicitly take themselves off campus in order to have the right to discriminate? I personally would rather VSG schedule around the schedule of registered student groups than intentionally off campus clubs that people choose to be affiliated with (because even registered student groups have club meetings on Wednesday nights and part of growing up is choosing what you will prioritize…)

  13. I’m really scared right now because I laughed when I saw this article and thought it was satire and it’s really worrisome that it’s not.

  14. There’s not some “grand conspiracy” to keep Christians out of VSG. If you think that VSG reps sit around thinking, “How can we oppress Christians today?” then I think you might be a little paranoid.

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