Thursday, December 01, 2005

Victory at UWEC 

The University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire has suspended its ban on resident assistants holding Bible studies in their dorm rooms. FIRE had filed suit earlier in the day, and it's hard to say whether that caused UWEC to suspend the ban or the threat of legislative hearings on the policy.

Early Wednesday, legislative furor over the UW System�s hesitance to condemn the policy reached a new high when Rep. Rob Kreibich, R-Eau Claire, announced his plans to hold a hearing on the matter and vowed to invite officials from both UW-Eau Claire and the UW System to testify.

�I�d love to see the UW System lawyers defend the Madison policy,� he said. �It has battered the system�s image around the world, [and] we�re anticipating just an overwhelming media [presence].�

Kreibich also invited UW-Eau Claire student Lance Steiger, the RA who launched the ordeal with his complaint to the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education this summer, as well as U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis.�I am pleased that Rep. Kreibich has taken this step, and I think it will be a good chance for the Legislature and really the taxpayers [to discuss the issue],� Green said. �These hearings are especially important in light of the attorney general�s unwillingness to issue an opinion. I think the UW System is opening itself up to a tremendous liability, certainly opening itself up to ridicule.�

Following Kreibich�s announcement, UW System President Kevin Reilly announced the formation of an advisory committee to make recommendations for a system-wide policy on what privileges should be granted to resident assistants or, in the case of UW-Madison, house fellows.

In other words, UW is beginning the process of delaying and covering their asses. FIRE promises to continue the lawsuit until the system-wide policy is changed. It should be noted that Madison is the only other campus that has this ban in place, so for example UW-Milwaukee does permit its RAs to lead Bible studies. Madison students -- time to bring pressure!