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Atheist group gets student funding from UW-Madison

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MADISON (WSAU)  An atheist group at U-W Madison might become the first of its kind in the nation to get a full year’s worth of student fee revenues for its programs on campus. The U-W’s Student Services Finance Committee has voted to allocate over $67,000 next year to the A-H-A – Athiests, Humanists, and Agnostics. Group president Chris Calvey said the funding would give support services to Madison students who have doubts about their faith – and they can have a place to discuss their concerns without fear of recrimination.

Calvey said religious groups have received student funds for years and quote, “It’s about time that secular students got the support we deserve.”

The Secular Student Alliance of Columbus Ohio says the U-W’s full-year grant appears to be the largest ever awarded to an atheist group. Jesse Galef of the Alliance tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that secular groups often get a few hundred dollars from their campuses for specific programs – but none of its 383 chapters have received full funding.

David Gardner of the Associated Students of Madison says the finance panel does not make value judgments in granting student funds. He said the only criterion is the direct benefit to students. The U-W’s Student Council, chancellor, and Board of Regents must still approve the allocation. But Gardner says finance committee recommendations are rarely overturned.

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