Friday, January 18, 2008

RCF: Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends.

So, after another court ruling seems to have put UW in its place with regard to UW's rejection of the Roman Catholic Foundation, the bloggers either seem to be breathing a hesitant sigh of relief. But there's still a lot of questions.

First, let's address some questions.

As Opsal said:
What's illegal, he said, is the university's practice of singling out types of religious speech for different treatment. The U.S. Supreme Court has said mandatory student fees must be awarded without regard to the viewpoint of the group.

Does this include all viewpoints? What if I started a group Students for Killing Puppies. If I applied for seg fees, wouldn't they have to give them to me? Basically, if you can't look at what the group does, WHAT BASIS DO YOU AWARD FEES ON!? Someone, I'm looking at you Smathers, please answer this for me.

First off, I disagree with Shabaz insisting that UW has a policy that singles out one religious group but supports others. JCC is not a religious organization — Jewish Cultural Collective. Come on. If they're talking about the funding given to MSA, its still different. They're an RSO, but more classified as an interest group than a service group. They get travel grants, not money for religious services. Now, if they started asking for money for religious ceremonies or objects, you might see the same reaction. But since they're not, we can't treat it as such.

As to Erik's question: Well, first off, that's an obvious extreme example. I'm not sure that would work. Let's try instead... Students for White Supremacy. That group, if it provided a demonstrated service to students (say, providing counseling and discussion for white students and their racist views) and was one of the only of its service on campus, it could conceivably receive funding. of course, it would most likely be rejected because of personal decisions. But if VPN was carried out correctly and they met the eligibility requirements, it is possible it would eventually go to budget deliberations. Still, I don't see how that would ever get to a stage like that. Yet, less extreme examples might be able to reach these stages.

Basically, Erik, to meet funding eligibility requirements you have to demonstrate:
-A service that is not replicated by any other group on campus (which is why they funded one Tenant resource and not the other)
-Have to provide some sort of proof that they provide a service to students of an education nature, including events, leadership capabilities and an additional significant component.

I only wish I could have interviewed Alex Gallagher a day later than we did.

Thankfully, there was one thing he said that while enlightening at the time, but raises new questions in my mind. In the middle of our interview, I asked him what criteria distinguished a group from segregated fee eligibility or denial. While there was always this vague talk of "an additional significant component," he offered a much better explanation. JCC, RCF, POLYGON and others were denied funding because they represent an interest group rather than a service group.

JCC? Sure, they provide events, leadership opportunities and a newsletter. Still, more an interest group than a service.
POLYGON? Sure they decide on some Engineering School decisions, provide leadership opportunities and networking events for engineering students. But their service to the entire student body? I challenge you to find it.

Ahh, but RCF is tricky. Someone commented on my piece in the Herald last semester that none of this matters because RCF still was denied eligibility. Yet, they were denied on the basis of not having that additional significant component. Now, RCF has always maintained that the service they provide to campus is multifaceted — programs (the occasional musical), events (take your pick), leadership opportunities (RCF Board or otherwise) but then religious services, religious discussion and pastoral care (Tim Kruse remarked last year about a few students who consistently came to talk through their emotional problems with the staff on hand.)

If the service aspect requires an additional significant component, one could argue that the lawsuit by UW has stripped RCF of the ability to provide that component. If RCF-UW was simply a gathering of Catholics, that'd be one thing. But if part of their mission is to actively recruit and provide a religious or spiritual service to campus and that has been immediately discounted by UW policy, it forces them into that interest group corner.

The question is, since the judge has ordered and injunction to UW's prohibitive policy, will RCF file some sort of SJ case demanding a review of their budget for eligibility?

We shall see. And we'll certainly have video coverage of this once everything gets edited and the interviews are completed. Expect the first one by the end of the week.

1 comment:

Erik Opsal said...

I didn't see this post until today. If you've read the Cardinal or my blog today, you'll see I did some research and wrote a column about it.

You are the resident seg fee expert, so let me know what you think. I spent a lot of time researching before I finally figured out what the hell Shabaz actually said. This stuff is tricky.