On Monday, Travis ably deconstructed the University of Wisconsin’s position on what students and society want from higher education. But it’s important to point out one particular portion of the article in Insider Higher Education by Kevin Reilly, President of the University of Wisconsin System:
To have more secondary students graduate, and do so better prepared for postsecondary success, colleges and universities will need to redouble longstanding partnerships with the schools. This also includes changing the higher education culture so that we act as a compelling magnet for talent earlier in students’ lives, even if that requires that we cross some well established boundaries that we have grown all too comfortable respecting. Beyond traditional approaches, we need to reach pre-college students directly through their families, computer screens, cell phones, and iPods. We also will need to create thoroughgoing relationships with local community and religious organizations that serve as trusted interlocutors for many first generation and minority Americans and their children.
Oh really? As Travis points out, the University has repeatedly discriminated against religious students on its campuses. How could it possibly want to partner with religious organizations when it consistently fails to extend equal rights to Christian students? Indeed, next week, the University’s lawyers will argue to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that the University would violate the Establishment Clause if it allowed a Catholic student organization at UW-Madison to have the same access to student activity fees that secular student groups receive.
If President Reilly wants to talk about working with religious organizations to higher education, perhaps he should start by providing the religious student organizations on his campus with the same constitutional rights as any other organization.