by Walter Kraft, Published December 10, 2012
YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University has resolved the case of Julea Ward v. Board of Regents of Eastern Michigan University.
At stake in the litigation was the University's right to train the students in its counseling program to treat all those it serves equally and in accordance with the ACA Code of Ethics, which requires that counselors do not allow their own values to interfere with their treatment of clients.
"The resolution of the lawsuit leaves the University's policies, programs, and curricular requirements intact," said Walter Kraft, vice president for communications of Eastern Michigan University. "The faculty retains its right to establish, in its learned judgment, the curriculum and program requirements for the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University.
"EMU has made the decision that it is in the best interest of its students and the taxpayers of the state of Michigan to resolve the litigation rather than continue to spend money on a costly trial. The matter has been resolved in the amount of $75,000. The University's insurance company, M.U.S.I.C. (Michigan Universities Self-Insurance Corporation), will pay the cost of the settlement."
Ms. Ward was a student in the University's Graduate School Counseling Program, where she was training to become a counselor in the K-12 school system. The Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on Ms. Ward's behalf on April 2, 2009. The ADF lawsuit sought to stop the University from enforcing its policies prohibiting discrimination and requiring the students in its counseling program to counsel students in conformance with the code of ethics of the American Counseling Association.
The ADF instead asked a court to rule that students have a right to decline to counsel any individual or group of individuals if counseling them conflicts with their religious beliefs. In this case, the ADF asked the court to order the University to change its counseling curriculum to allow counselors in training to be able to refer clients elsewhere rather than counsel them on issues related to a same sex relationship, pre-marital sex, or pregnancy termination.
For additional background and information, including the July 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and the January 2012 ruling by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, please visit http://www.emich.edu/aca_case/
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