Friday, May 04, 2007

Catholic Group's Suit Against University of Wisconsin Settled

The University of Wisconsin has settled a lawsuit filed against it by UW Roman Catholic Foundation challenging UW's refusal to recognize the Foundation as a student organization. Originally the University had two objections-- the Foundation limited its membership to Catholics, and it was not controlled by students. In March, a federal judge ruled that the University was violating the organization's rights by applying non-discrimination rules in a way that forced it to admit non-Catholics. (See prior postings, 1, 2.)

In yesterday's settlement (full text of court order), reported by the Badger Herald, and by the Chippewa, the Foundation agreed to reorganize to separate St. Paul’s University Catholic Parish from the University's Catholic student group. The University will recognize the separate student group, RCF-UWM, as a student organization. RCF-UWM agreed, however, that it would not seek funding from student fees for Masses, weddings, funerals or other events "requiring the direct control of ordained clergy." In exchange, University Chancellor John Wiley agreed to include $253,274 in student fee funding for the group in his recommended budget for next year. As part of the settlement, the court vacated its preliminary injunction orders issued in March and dismissed plaintiff's complaint.