New Dorms Spark Debate

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The new Newman Center residence hall is adding 376 beds for students who want a values-oriented place to live. The idea was embraced by many, but sparked an investigation thousands of miles away.

Finishing touches are being put on the newest addition to Troy University. School leaders say surveys show a hall, complete with a chapel is just what students wanted.

John Dew, Senior Vice Chancellor Student Services said, “Faith relationship is very important to them, much higher than we normally see in students across the country.”

Private donations, and not state funds, financed the 11-point-eight million dollar project.

Kelsey Burgans, Community Director Newman Center Halls said, “We have a great opportunity with these dorms to have people of all faiths and cultures and backgrounds come together and to learn not only from each other but also how to live with one another.”

Students active in any campus faith-based organization were given housing preference.

A nonprofit group from Wisconsin, Freedom From Religion Foundation. says this preference breaks state and federal fair housing laws.

Attorney Andrew Seidel said, “Simply the fact that the government is going to be owning a building that is being used for sectarian religious purposes presents another constitutional problem under the establishment clause.”

Attorneys with the group say they are continuing their legal research and will send a letter to the university by the end of the week.

Dew said, "It is our position that in no way does this faith-based housing infringe upon the freedom of religion of any of our students. No one is being compelled to be there. No one is being told that you don’t belong there. It is voluntary for people to want to be a part of this community. And there is also plenty of other housing on campus available for the incoming students.”

Move in day is August 10th. And the hall is completely full.

The university said their attorney will review any request made and take it from there.

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