If you aren’t convinced then you probably do not know the facts. So here they are: WSU allows the viewpoints of such student groups as "That Gay Group," College Republicans, College Democrats, Young Democratic Socialists, and Wichita Students for Liberty to exist on campus. All of those groups are involved in persuasive advocacy.
Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Right in Education (FIRE) summed it up nicely by saying, “If other student groups continue to receive funding from student fees for ‘non-scholarly’ activities, there is no justification for denying funding to groups whose primary interest is religious.” Nothing more need be said.
Actually, something more does need to be said. WSU officials need to sit down and read FIRE’s Guide to Student Fees, Funding and Legal Equality on Campus. They also need to read two Supreme Court cases, Rosenberger and Southworth (both mentioned previously in this column). I assign those two cases to my undergraduate students so they will know their rights. Administrators also need to read them so they can learn the rules that apply to their jobs. Of course, to do so would place their reliance on qualified immunity in jeopardy. There would be no more pretending they were just doing their jobs and did not understand the law.
Fortunately, a student at WSU did know the law and contacted David French at the ACLJ. Shortly after receiving a First Amendment lesson from French, WSU revoked the discriminatory policy and restored equal funding rights to its religious groups. This area of law is settled; what is surprising is that there are still universities out there that continue to pretend they didn’t "get the memo." They need to watch Office Space before they get sued and wind up with a bad case of the Mondays. (My apologies go out to those who haven’t seen the movie and missed the pop culture reference altogether).
Religious speech on campus must be treated like all other speech on campus. To say that a student group should be disfavored simply because its viewpoint is based on religion - rather than any other belief or “orientation” – is unmitigated bigotry. To permit such a distinction would be to allow the university to silence any speech that does not conform to administrative orthodoxy. Put simply, it would cause the university to cease being a university.
It is good that WSU has chosen to repent and turn from its sinfully censorious ways. Credit belongs to those First Amendment evangelists who spread the good news of religious liberty on our nation’s campuses. Real scholars would be lost without them.
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