The University of Utah Institutional Council balked at first at approving a new student policy that would let student money go to campus religious organizations for non-religious activities.
But council members overcame their original objections after John Wunderli, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, said a member of the Utah attorney general's staff, helped develop the amendment to ASUU policies and procedures.The new policy had already been approved by the student assembly.
In its approval of the policy, the Institutional Council said it wants a written legal opinion from the Attorney General's Office that can be used as a guide.
The students' previous policy prohibited any religious organizations on campus from receiving student money.
But the student body president told members of the U.'s governing board that he wanted to give some ASUU seed money, allocated to promote fund raising for the Marriott Library, to religious organizations. The organizations would parlay the seed money into greater amounts for the library.
The Newman Center, a Catholic student organization, had requested part of the seed money to sponsor a non-denominational, campuswide lecture as a library fund-raiser.
Council Chairman James S. Jardine, an attorney who was not in attendance, sent word that he questioned if the new policy would be constitutional, violating the separation of church and state.
Council member Nicholas S. Vidalakis asked what problems would arise if an organization used a non-religious activity "as a guise when in fact the activity was for religious purposes. What if there was a campuswide event but it was actually held to help defray the expenses of the Hare Krishna, for example?"
Several members wanted to delay action on the policy until the legal opinion, but Wunderli argued that the policy was crucial now for library fund raising. The council agreed to go along with Wunderlifor now but will seek the formal opinion.