A pro-First Amendment student group at the University of Minnesota has filed a lawsuit over preferential treatment provided to leftist groups and their “great God of political correctness.”
The lawsuit, filed by students Evan Smith and Isaac Smith and student association Viewpoint Neutrality Now! argues that student fees being used to fund nine leftist cultural centers in Coffman Union violates the Constitution.
“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,” the students’ attorney Erick Kaardal, who filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court, told the Star Tribune. “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.”
Currently, the only student groups with free lounge space inside Coffman Memorial Union are Black Student Union, La Raza Student Cultural Center, Disabled Student Cultural Center, Feminist Student Activist Collective, Queer Student Cultural Center, Asian-American Student Union, Minnesota International Student Association, American Indian Student Cultural Center and Al-Madinah Cultural Center.
The lawsuit explains that the campus building is subsidized by student fees that are estimated to be worth $30,000 per year. They also use these student fees to fund student media organizations like the Minnesota Daily and Radio K. The Tribune report explains that the Minnesota Daily newspaper received $512,400 in 2018-2019 and Radio K received $314,400, according to the complaint. “Student groups that are not designated media can only receive up to $55,000 per year.”
However, not just any student group can apply to be considered media and receive this funding. The group must be invited by the university’s vice provost for Student Affairs, and those that aren’t invited have no way to appeal.
The students want space in the student center and media that receives funding to be “viewpoint neutral.”
“If this wasn’t student service fee funded, there wouldn’t be a problem,” Kaardal said. “When it uses student service fees, it has to be viewpoint neutral.”
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.”