The ASUA (Associated Students of the University of Arizona) pulled funding from a Christian student group’s concert just prior to the event, causing the group to scramble to secure donations to continue to have the event, and raising questions about whether or not financial grants to student groups with religious purposes are legal under state guidelines. Part of the controversy centers around the fact that the ASUA, at the same meeting, gave money to a group that supports gay and lesbian causes.
The ASUA has given money to this particular student group, Priority College Ministry, in the past, but the representatives of the student government association said that they pulled the funding this year in compliance with state law. The claim is that student organizations with “blatantly religious” themes. The head of the university’s Muslim student organization called the ruling hypocritical, and said, “The university should be a place where we learn from each others ideas and have a dialogue and innovation.” Apparently the ruling, which has first been applied to Priority College Ministry, will affect all other student religious organizations.
The same organization has received money from ASUA in the past for this specific concert.
Student government at a public university is an organization that is supposed to be representative of the entire student body. All registered students pay a fee which provides funds for the ASUA budget. Even though the state administers the fund, it is not state money. There are students at the University of Arizona, as there are at any state university, who are members of Christian churches and campus Christian organizations. The student government association is supposed to provide for student activities for all of the university students, not just those that don’t have a “blatantly religious” purpose. It almost seems this ruling, coming at the same time a grant is given to a gay and lesbian organization, was almost designed to be a slap in the face to the Christian student organization that sponsored the concert.
A university, as the Muslim student organization leader stated, is a place where students go to learn. Excluding religious beliefs and practices from that process means that a large amount of human culture is excluded from the curriculum. It would be like attempting to teach Physics and Chemistry, but leaving out the algebra and calculus.
It would only be fair for the Christian students at the UA not to be charged the student activity fee that goes to the student government, if they are not going to be treated fairly in the budgeting process.