A national non-profit education association is criticizing a UW-Eau Claire policy prohibiting resident assistants to hold bible studies in the dorms. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says the directive is "a shameful attack on freedom of religion."
The current policy prohibits resident assistants, or RA's, from hosting any religious or political meetings in dorms, but they can participate in or host them anywhere else on campus. University officials say the policy is under review.
"I was a little surprised that at a university like this where they promote a lot of diversity, understanding other peoples' beliefs and everything, why would they choose to ban this certain thing?" says RA Lance Steiger, who received a letter from university officials telling him to stop holding a bible study in his room. He listed "Student Impact Bible Study Leader" on his application to become an RA and claims to have held both positions simultaneously for four semesters.
"We want to find out what our past policies and practices are," says Mike Rindo, a UW-Eau Claire spokesman. "We want to reconcile those with legal standards and then we want to make a decision moving forward that is in the best interest of all of our students."
Rindo says besides room and board, resident assistants also receive a $675 per semester stipend and are considered employees of the college and must adhere to school policies that don't affect regular students.