New Dorms Still Under Fire

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By Alabama News Network

 Even before the new faith-based dorm opened up, there's been push back from thousands of miles away, claiming the Newman Center violates Alabama Fair housing law and separation of church and state. 

 
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking a closer look at the lease, between the university and it's private foundation responsible for funding the $11.8 million addition. 
 
Andrew Seidel, attorney for FFRF said, "and leasing a dorm even for a dollar, to a private group with the purpose of them starting a religious dorm is still a religious purpose and violation of the constitution." 
 
One dollar a year for 25 years, after that the building will belong to the university. 
 
Dr. John Dew, Student Service said, "Actually by going this route with the foundation we were able to keep the construction costs of the facility lower." 
 
This is the second issue the foundation is bringing up. First, in August they wrote a letter to the chancellor after the schools' website posted they would show preference to students in faith-based organizations. But in the time since the letter, that requirement was removed from the website, the foundation says this is a step in the right direction. Dr. Dew said it was redundant and didn't need to be posted. Also reiterating that the dorms are open to people of all faiths. 
 
Andrew said, "but we want to be sure that that requirement is actually removed all together, not just hidden away and taken off the website. We want to be sure that students are allowed to live in this dorm with no regard to their religious beliefs or lack there of whatsoever."
 
And whatever back and forth is being done outside of the Newman Center, some students don't understand what all the fuss is about. 
 
Becky Allbritton, a sophomore said, "there all religions we are all really diverse. I don't know if anyone is my actual religion on my floor." 
 
Even without an official response from the university, the foundation says they will continue to work with them and no lawsuit will be filed in the meantime. 
 
The foundation said they are looking into other complaints about the university and religious practices, separate from the dorms. They won't release specifics until they look further into the claims. 


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