Sunday, November 14, 2004

Religious Service Learning Ban at UW-EC

Previous posts on the issue here, here, and here.

Here's a link to the latest news on this issue from Thursday's edition of the UW-Eau Claire student newspaper, The Spectator, reporting on last week's meeting last Tuesday.

Arguments for and against the ban were largely limited to the same arguments that arose at Academic Policies Committee meetings. The committee ruled in favor of the ban by an 8-2 margin.

Much of the ban's support stemmed from the leverage used by System Legal Council - legal representative of the UW System - to influence the university to approve the ban. In the event that the university would enact policy conflicting with System Legal's wishes, it no longer would be required to represent the university in a lawsuit.

Provost and Vice Chancellor Ron Satz said he knows from experience that this means System Legal Council certainly won't represent the university if it rejects the ban.

For this reason, he said he would enforce a ban on religious proselytization, regardless of the ruling by University Senate, as long as System Legal remains in support of it.

"It's a no-brainer for me. Until I'm advised by System Legal to the contrary, I would be following the constitution of the state of Wisconsin and the constitution of the United States."

While Satz' comments give University Senate's impending ruling on the issue no practical purpose, he tried not to negate all of its influence.

"The senate can do a lot of things. It can vote to censure me. It can tell me I'm a bad provost. It could boo me. But what it can't do is force me to disobey the law," he said.

Really not much more to report, except that it appears the University is digging in. As I said earlier, from my reading of the case law precedents provided in the letter from ACLJ Counsel Geoffrey Surtees, the university is more likely to face a lawsuit should they enact the ban than if they decide to drop it.

Satz was the keynote speaker at my 1989 graduation from UWEC and used it as an opportunity to demagogue about Native American treaties. (A big issue back then due to the controversy regarding Native American spearfishing--a controversy that no one's really cared about since.) That was during the morning graduation ceremony. Meanwhile, the students who graduated in the afternoon ceremony had Governor Tommy Thompson as their keynote speaker. Satz was, if I recall correctly, a history professor.

Meanwhile, the AP has picked up the story, but they don't delve into the legal issues.


Post a Comment

<< Home