University Asks for Legal Review of Bible Study Ban

November 28, 2005

The University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire has asked the state attorney general to review the legality of its ban on resident assistants leading Bible studies in their dorms, a university spokesman said.

Last July, a school administrator sent a letter to Lance Steiger, a resident assistant, informing him that students might fear they’d be “judged or pushed in a direction that does not work for them” because Steiger conducted Bible studies in his dorm.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based group that battles “political correctness” at universities, took up Steiger’s cause and asked the school to allow resident assistants to conduct Bible studies.

FIRE issued a statement calling the policy an “assault on basic civil liberties.”

UW-Eau Claire spokesman Mike Rindo said resident assistants are essentially state employees and are forbidden to host religious and political activities or “sales parties” in their workplace, the dorms.

Resident assistants receive free room and board plus a $625-per-semester stipend in exchange for counseling students and explaining community standards.

They are permitted to organize and lead religious activities outside the residence halls where they live, Rindo said.

“All of this is under review, and we’re seeking advice from legal counsel,” Rindo said in a telephone interview.

By spring, the school expects to clarify its policies, which have been verbal directives until now, and may put them in writing, Rindo said. It is uncertain whether the attorney general will respond to the school’s request for a legal review, Rindo said.

Schools: University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Cases: University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire: Ban on RAs’ Leading Bible Studies