Thursday, November 10, 2005

Freedom OF religion ...

... not from religion. (Also via Bill Cork)

U-Wisc Eau Claire's Bible Study ban comes under fire.

The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire is reviewing a directive that banned resident assistants from holding Bible studies in their dorms.Last July, the university's associate director for Housing and Residence Life sent a letter saying that if RAs lead Bible studies, students might not find them "approachable" or might fear they'd be "judged or pushed in a direction that does not work for them."The letter added that RAs who persist in holding Bible studies would face "disciplinary action."The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education protested, calling the directive a "shameful attack on freedom of religion."A university spokesman said the policy is under review and may be broadened to forbid political and ideological as well as religious activities.

Oh great. So, let's say, a student comes to U-Wisc Eau Claire from a rather rural, backward part of, say, the American South, and has a particular opinion of, say minority races. And has to sit through a workshop on racial diversity and inclusion. Oh my friggin word! He might be "judged or pushed in a direction that does not work for him!" A fortiriori, say, a U-101 class on diversity that, say, suggests that he should not just be civil towards, but fully accept gay and lesbian students, including all their sexual choices, because, after all, we're very tolerant.

And, when criticized, their response is to think about banning even more speech? Let's dial-up the thought police, and make sure students don't have a single Intolerant thought. If they do, zap 'em!

[Don't get me wrong: I obviously don't think it's ok to discriminate against gays or lesbians or racial minorities. Just trying to suggest that in such environments, there is no "neutral" position. There's always some kind of "approved speech," stemming from a particular political agenda. After all, suggesting that a Bible Study might make an RA unapproachable implies that Bible Studies are Bad For Students. And, after all these years spent in a University environment one realizes that University Housing tends to be, well, rather liberal, in a Republic of Cambridge kind of way. And besides, what was all that about a University being a place where there's a free exchange of ideas? Oh, that's only true if it means the Properly Approved Ideas. Sorry.]

::Clarification:: (as requested in the combox). Yep, I was being stereotypical with the example of the rural, conservative, Southern student. Perhaps it was unnecessary, but, it does represent a stereotype common in the "elite circles" of Universities.


assiniboine said...

"Republic of Cambridge kind of way"? Are we talking Cambridge, Massachusetts or Cambridge, England?

I beg your pardon?

(At last a situation in which Bill Bryson's entirely delightful observation is confounded. I of course quote liberally, but he says, more or less, "Why are my American brethren so concerned to establish in their newscasts that it's 'London, England,' and 'Paris, France' they are talking about? We were otherwise going to assume it was London, Nebraska, and Paris, Minnesota?'")

assiniboine said...

You need to elaborate your views here. You are not, surely, suggesting that undergraduates from the corn belt are ipso facto dummies, I trust.

(Well, full disclosure: I am from way north of the corn belt. But I HAVE taught undergraduates way up there.)

Let's say he or she might be stretched to give thought to perspectives that he or she hadn't before considered.

Or perhaps you underestimate the intelligence of students from the hinterland arriving at the University of Wisconsin.

Gashwin said...

Mea culpa. Apparently it's "People's Republic of Cambrdige." Check this out. (You'll have to scroll down a bit).

And yes. Cambridge, MA. :)

St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

That's Cambridge, "Our Fair City", MA, 02238.

Or at least that's how the Magliozzi Brothers pronounce it.