Thursday, August 23, 2012
In the vein of "the moral state of campus culture" ... Troy University, a state institution in Alabama, announces:
Construction of a new 376-bed residence hall at Troy University is under way, adding much-needed student housing, with a values-oriented twist.
In collaboration with St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Troy and the Archdiocese of Mobile, the residence hall will feature a Newman Center, a Catholic ministry center found on secular university campuses throughout the world and on more than 270 campuses in the United States. . . .
While housing in the residence hall will be open to all University students, Catholic students, as well as students of faith, may take part in Newman Center activities and attend events in a 2,300 square-foot chapel that will be the centerpiece of the development.
I'm sympathetic to the idea of creating such a space as a concrete (!) instantiation of faith-based values as an option for students. I hope everyone concerned is taking the necessary steps to structure the arrangement to avoid any serious Establishment Clause challenges. The university's news release says: "Troy University Foundation is building the facility, with financing provided by Troy Bank and Trust. Once constructed, trustees approved a measure that allows the University to lease the facility from the Foundation, a private entity, for its management and maintenance." I can't tell for sure from the release whether (1) the chapel is a Catholic chapel, or the sort of general chapel found at many public universities, and (2) to what extent the "management and maintenance" by the university (I think the release says it's by the university) extends to the Newman Center and/or the chapel.