by Clay Robinson
Two students filed a civil rights complaint against the University of Minnesota for misuse of student fees and “worship[ing] the great god of political correctness.” Along with a student group called Viewpoint Neutrality Now!, students Evan Smith and Isaac Smith claim student fees being used to fund nine cultural centers in Coffman Union with subsidized space is unconstitutional, reported the Minnesota Daily.
Viewpoint Neutrality Now! is not officially recognized as a campus organization at UMN, but it is an association of students who pay student fees and “support and advocate for viewpoint neutrality and other reforms.” The students say that the current system has offered “preferential treatment” to nine cultural groups receiving student fees in that they are offered free lounge space in the student union.
“The University of Minnesota has created a student-services-fee-funded shrine on the second floor of Coffman Memorial Union to worship the great god of political correctness,” said attorney, Erick Kardaal. “In order to do so, the University trashes the First Amendment. The public expects the University to take care of and educate its students, not to abuse their student services fees.”
These groups include the Feminist Student Activist Collective, the Queer Student Cultural Center, and the La Raza Student Cultural Center.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune noted that the lawsuit also criticizes the use of student fees to fund specific student media organizations like the Minnesota Daily and Radio K, both of which received more than $800,000 in funding combined. Other student media groups are only allowed $55,000 per year as they do not necessarily receive recognition as an official student media group, and are instead treated the same as other student organizations.
The lawsuit asks that the student fee funding application process be revised to ensure that all organizations that apply are viewpoint neutral.
In addition, the lawsuit states that any student group should be able apply for lounge spaces in the Coffman Union.
Public Relations Director for the University of Minnesota Jake Ricerk told Campus Reform that “the university has not yet been served this complaint, but is aware of it.” At this time, the University is “analyzing appropriate steps to defend the university and its processes.”
All nine student cultural groups from UMN did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time of publication.
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Clay Robinson is a Arizona Senior Campus Correspondent for CampusReform.org.
Photo “University of Minnesota” by AlexiusHoratius. CC BY-SA 3.0.