Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling in Favor of SPU and Other Universities in Washington State
ON JUNE 13, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state could continue to award Equal Opportunity Grants (EOGs) to needy students who chose to use their grants at a Christian college or university such as Seattle Pacific University. The ruling was in reference to a protracted civil suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the state of Washington that sought to disallow Equal Oppor-tunity Grants because some students used them at Christian institutions. The ACLU argued that the program violated the state constitution's provision for the separation of church and state.
Seattle Pacific and eight other private institutions in the state spent three years refuting the ACLU's contention that the EOG program amounted to public support of religion. Coordinating the defense of the nine institutions was the Washington Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
"The implications of the ruling are heartening for us," says SPU President Philip Eaton. "I believe the Court agreed with us that we are not pervasively sectarian, that we have a right to be Christian and at the same time be recognized as legitimate institutions of higher learning. This was a bases-loaded home run for SPU and our partners in Christian higher education across the state and the nation. By this ruling, we remain at the main table of the culture and our community. The ACLU has not been successful in pushing us to the margins.
"As important, this is a victory for students who want to use state aid to take advantage of the kind of education that Seattle Pacific provides — one that nurtures both academic competence and personal character."
SPU's legal counsel, Chi-Dooh (Skip) Li '66 of Ellis Li & McKinstry, has been integrally involved in many battles over the relationship between church and state during his career. "For the first time, I feel the state constitutional ground is leveled, and where it should have always been. This is, for SPU and similar organizations, the single most important state constitutional decision in our lifetime."
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From the President
The Board of Trustees adopted a new SPU mission statement in May 2002. "I believe passionately in what we are trying to articulate here," says President Philip Eaton.
Baseball: Genesis to Numbers
Professor of History Bill Woodward is on a lecture tour throughout small-town Washington for "Inquiring Mind," a popular project of the Washington Commission for the Humanities.
Tiffany Bricks Project
Alumni, friends and members of the SPU community are invited to purchase and inscribe a brick from the former Tiffany Hall. Funds will directly benefit student scholarships.
Varsity Pair Rows to Gold
The Falcon women's varsity pair crew shell rowed to its first national championship gold medal in the Dad Vail Regatta.
Nick Glancy, Class of 2002, writes about September 11, the Gospel of John and J.R.R. Tolkien in this new Response department.