Tech Professor's Evolution Policy Under Fire - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/30/03

Tech Professor's Evolution Policy Under Fire

The U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating claims of religious discrimination at Texas Tech. A student filed the complaint against the university and biology professor Dr. Michael Dini. The student accuses Dr. Dini of discriminating against students who don't believe in evolution. The federal inquiry comes more than a year after the student originally complained about Dr. Dini's alleged discrimination. The student claims Dr. Dini's policy for writing letters of recommendation is unconstitutional and needs to change.

Associate Biology Professor Michael Dini, who has ten years experience at Texas Tech, is now being investigated by the feds for what one student believes is a clear constitutional violation. "A public official cannot deny a benefit to a person because of their race, religion or national origin," says Attorney Hiram Sasser with Liberty Legal out of Plano.

What's being challenged is Dr. Dini's policy for writing letters of recommendation. On Dr. Dini's website , he asks students, "How do you think the human species originated? If you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation..." The web site goes on to say, "The central, unifying principle of biology is the theory of evolution..."

"Professor Dini, and by adoption Texas Tech, is discriminating against those who do not believe evolution is true by denying them the opportunity to earn a letter of recommendation because of their religious beliefs," says Sasser.

Texas Tech Chancellor Dr. David Smith says that Tech will provide whatever documentation is requested of them by the Department of Justice. But he says he believes Dr. Dini is fully within his rights. "This is a debate America will have, but Dr. Dini does a great job in the classroom. I feel confident about the way this has been handled by the university," says Chancellor Smith.

The student, described as a devout Christian, simply wants Tech to change the policy from affirming of belief in evolution to an understanding of evolution. And the student is prepared to file suit if that doesn't happen. "But we're hoping Tech will not waste taxpayer dollars trying to defend this thing when the solution is free. Just stop discriminating," says Sasser.

The Department of Justice wants Texas Tech to provide policies for letters of recommendation, copies of complaints against Dr. Dini and other information by February 24th. Dr. Dini did not return our phone calls to comment on this story.

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