FIRE President David French will be appearing tonight on the Wisconsin Public Television program Here & Now, which airs at 7 p.m. (CT). It does not seem to be available online, but friends of liberty in Wisconsin should tune in.
During the appearance, David will debate Mike Rindo, UWEC’s executive director of university communications. It’s tough not to feel bad for Rindo, as the guy’s had the unfortunate duty of defending the indefensible: UWEC’s assault on the First Amendment. For instance, after FIRE issued its latest press release on UWEC, Rindo threw together a memorandum to members of the media attempting to discredit our arguments. His principal claim is that “[c]urrently, as it has for many years,” UWEC prohibits RAs from “organizing or leading religious activities (Christian or other), partisan political activities, other ideological activities and ‘sales party’ events in their room or residence halls.” By saying this, Rindo hopes to prove that UWEC is not discriminating on the basis of viewpoint by—admittedly—banning RAs from leading private Bible studies in the dorms where they live.
Now, even if Rindo’s claim were true, UWEC would still be in trouble. Rather than engaging in viewpoint discrimination, it would just be taking away even more of its RAs’ rights under the ridiculous assertion that RAs have no free time and therefore forfeit their First Amendment rights 24/7/365. Anyone who has gone to college knows this is not true, and, as we noted earlier this week, newspaper editors are also realizing it. (You can add the editors of UW-Madison’s daily Badger-Herald to the list.)
But it’s even worse than that for Rindo. He is now only one of many hapless university PR flacks who have valiantly tried to take FIRE on, but then found that the truth has gotten in their way. It is overwhelmingly clear that UWEC has not prohibited RAs from “organizing and leading…other ideological activities” in their dormitories. As we have pointed out repeatedly—with no meaningful response from Rindo—the UWEC administration is in print specifically lauding “an RA in Towers North” for organizing The Vagina Monologues “as a residence hall activity…in Towers.” And, of course, David also pointed out Wednesday that several other clearly ideological activities have been permitted.
As always, we have the facts on our side. Those who can tune in to Wisconsin Public Television tonight will see that right on their screens.