University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire: Unconstitutional Student Fee Funding Amendment

Category: Freedom of Conscience, Religious Liberty
Schools: University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

FIRE protested the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s (UWEC) Student Senate’s decision to withhold student fee funding from any student organization that espouses a “particular ideological, religious, or partisan viewpoint.” The rule, passed in March of 2005, came after a controversy regarding the approval of a new student magazine, The Flip Side, in December of 2004. A student senator was quoted in UWEC’s The Spectator as saying “We want to exclude any groups that would be religious in nature, political in nature or anything that would have a political agenda [from being funded through student segregated fees].” FIRE wrote Interim Chancellor Vicki Lord Larson in opposition to the funding ban stating, “UWEC, as a public institution of higher education, cannot and must not forbid student organizations from determining their mission and membership based on particular ideological, religious, or political viewpoints, and must not deny them funding if they organize events expressing those viewpoints.” FIRE received a response from the UW system’s general counsel, who assured FIRE that the policy, which was not yet in effect, would be reviewed under relevant case law.