“Nobody held a gun to their head and made them enroll at a school called CATHOLIC University”

by Walter Olson on October 28, 2011

Welcome Prof. Bainbridge readers: The Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights is investigating Catholic U. for, among other alleged offenses, “not providing [some Muslim students] rooms without Christian symbols for their daily prayers.” Like a legal complaint against the same institution for reinstating single-sex dormitories, this one has been advanced by inveterate publicity hound and George Washington U. lawprof John Banzhaf, whose antics we have discussed often in the past (though not much recently, since he actually seems to like the attention); a few highlights here, here, and here.

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“No Muslim student at Catholic University has registered a complaint…”
11.07.11 at 7:14 am

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1 Bikkolus 10.28.11 at 10:56 am

Hmm. Well also nobody held a gun to Catholic University’s head and made them accept federal money, which comes with the stipulation that you not discriminate by religion. You want to have a religious school? Awesome. That’s protected by America’s religious freedom. But you don’t get any public money to fund your discrimination — that’s also protected by America’s religious freedom.

2 Richard Nieporent 10.28.11 at 12:14 pm

Nice rant Bikkolus. There is only one little problem. This has nothing to do with the Feds. It is the D.C. Office of Human Rights, not the Federal Government, that is investigating the complaint. It is a city law that they are accused of violating. You were so anxious to attack Catholic University that you couldn’t even bother to get your facts straight.

3 Leland D.Davis 10.28.11 at 3:11 pm

I would like to point out that there is a difference between having a religious character and discriminating on the basis of religious affiliation.
Is Catholic U not letting people of different religions in? Look, I and my whole family is LDS, and my mother, a career high school teacher, has taught at Catholic high schools! I know of a number of people who are not Catholic who attended Catholic schools, and even allowed to graduate. Now, Catholic U might be a different situation, but being Catholic doesn’t automatically mean religious discrimination.
I attended an LDS school, (Brigham Young University) in the early 90′s, and some of my classmates weren’t LDS. However, everybody at BYU had to follow standards of conduct which were informed by LDS religion – which did not include religious observance, but included such things as agreeing to abstain from premarital sex and alcohol, among other things. Maybe things have changed, but people sued BYU and lost, both on the we want to live in a coed dorm thing and BYU shouldn’t have an LDS character thing. I thought that this was settled. Of course, BYU possibly may have changed since when I attended, but that is a different matter.
A religious college or university may pursue a religious mission as part of its operations, so long as it does not discriminate against students on the basis of religion, and still receive federal funding as a university. That is, students of different religions can enroll if they meet the academic requirements. This can include research grants.

4 Mike 10.28.11 at 3:27 pm

We need to put some reasonable boundaries on what is considered “discrimination”. Rooms at a Catholic school that simply have Catholic symbols is NOT discrimination to anyone.

5 JimAtLaw 10.28.11 at 7:15 pm

Well said Leland.

Muslims who want to practice their religion completely removed from symbols of Catholicism should feel free to do so by NOT ATTENDING A CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY.

The students who are behind the complaint/investigation should be listed by name here and in other forums so that future prospective employers can know to expect baseless discrimination suits.

6 Scott Jacobs 10.28.11 at 7:24 pm

What makes this even funnier, the guy isn’t actually suing ob behalf of a person – none of the Muslim students who attend the university have thus far voiced a complaint.

7 Scott Jacobs 10.28.11 at 7:28 pm

Also, Bikkolus, I would point out that there is no actual discrimination taking place.

The School allows non-Catholics (I suspect they might even let j00s attend class and even – gasp – graduate) to enroll. They allow them to practice their religion.

They just haven’t gone to the trouble to remove from the rooms all Catholic iconography.

And they shouldn’t HAVE to.

I would like for you to show me exactly how much federal money the school receives, and then contrast it against how much Yale gets, a school which refused to allow military recruiters onto campus.

8 John Burgess 10.28.11 at 8:18 pm

I’m amused (in a perverse way) by the suit. Legal drollery is always something to note.

Saudi Arabia has a scholarship program to send its students abroad, some 25K of them annually. They–on of the most fundamentalist Muslim countries on the planet–are happy to send them to Catholic universities. In fact, they prefer them to many others.

They are sending them to smaller colleges, some who have never seen a Saudi before. What complaints the students may have is not, to my knowledge, over religious matters. They’re mostly cross communications about classroom expectations.

9 Marty 10.29.11 at 9:22 am

Didn’t freedom of association once also include freedom of dissociation?

10 marco73 10.29.11 at 9:43 am

Give me a break. Bashing Catholics is so old, and takes no guts.
Come on, try something different. Try starting a Jewish student group at one of the “muslim” charter middle/high schools that keep cropping up and taking state money. See who’s ox is gored then.

11 Smart Dude 10.29.11 at 4:01 pm

I guessing that Bikkolus can’t wait for the federal Gestapo to try and force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, which they consider to be murdering babies.

12 PG 10.30.11 at 3:31 am

Speaking of not getting one’s facts straight before commenting, Yale was obligated for years by the Solomon Amendment to allow military recruiters on campus, precisely because the school didn’t want to give up all federal monies (including loans and grants to Yale students).

Now with the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Yale and several other Ivies are bringing back ROTC. http://www.military.com/news/article/air-force-news/rotc-programs-return-to-ivy-league-schools.html

Although some commenters may regard concerns about discrimination as a laugh line, these schools’ administrations were sincere in their desire to avoid having their gay and lesbian students turned away. Now that that’s no longer an issue, military recruitment and ROTC are welcome, just as veterans have long been welcome as students.

13 CT_Yankee 10.30.11 at 4:58 pm

The University might want to reconsider if people that are offended by Christian symbols and still enroll at a Catholic school are really “college material”.

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