Talking Points

  • The University of Wisconsin needs to uphold neutrality. Students in dorms pay a lot of money for public housing, and deserve a neutral resident assistant and living space.
  • Taxpayers are footing the bill for RA dorm rooms. Under the Wisconsin constitution, taxpayers are guaranteed they are not subsidizing worship. The RA is a University employee and authority figure, hence this is no longer "free speech."
  • The policy did not restrict the religious exercise of the research assistant (they were free to attend bible studies in the dorm or elsewhere). It simply restricted them from using their position of power, representing the University, to personally organize bible studies in the dorms.

    The resident assistants' publicly-paid for dorm room is their "office" and should be a place where Christians and nonChristians, Democrats and Republicans, alike, all feel welcome and comfortable. What if a Mormon RA started holding Mormon discussions for the dorm students they supervise? What if an RA wanted to publicly sacrifice an animal for Ramadan, or invited students to a meeting of the KKK? The policy banning religious or political activity by an RA in their dorm was wise.
  • Students are waiting in line for this "plum" position. There is no need to retain a student who can't follow rules.
  • RAs are supposed to be there for all students, particularly those with problems. Dorm students could fear reprisal, or learn to avoid an RA who is thumping the bible or promoting political parties contrary to their own views.
  • Call for reason and perspective! An out of state religious-right group is bullying the University of Wisconsin and making a tempest out of this teapot.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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