Campus Refuses to Fund Anti-Affirmation Action Event

Jan 13, 2014 by

Libertarian Students Sue University of Michigan for Political Discrimination

A libertarian student group at the University of Michigan has filed a lawsuit against the school, arguing campus leaders violated the club’s First Amendment rights and engaged in viewpoint discrimination by refusing to reimburse the group’s costs for hosting a guest speaker critical of affirmative action.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 20 on behalf of Young Americans for Liberty, goes on to allege that even as members of the university’s student government denied funding to libertarian students for their event, campus leaders used mandatory student fees to fund pro-affirmative action efforts.

University of Michigan officials declined to comment to The College Fix about the lawsuit, saying they are evaluating its allegations.

Young Americans for Liberty sought reimbursement for the cost of an affirmative action lecture by Jennifer Gratz. The university’s student government denied the request because it deemed the speech to be “political,” the lawsuit states. However, the student government – using mandatory student fees – funds political events all the time, and cannot pick and choose what it will allow, the lawsuit contends.

Gratz is a prominent opponent of affirmative action in Michigan and nationally who helped pass the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in 2006, a state law that ostensibly rendered the college’s affirmative action policy unconstitutional.

Gratz spoke Oct. 22 at the campus in a talk titled “Diversity in Race v. Diversity in Ideas: The Michigan Affirmative Action Debate.” The lecture took place just days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

A week before Young Americans for Liberty hosted Gratz, members of another campus group traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate its pro-affirmative action political message on the steps of the United States Supreme Court during the Schuette hearing, the lawsuit alleges.

The student government agreed to help fund that lobbying trip, but denied Young Americans for Liberty the $1,000 reimbursement it sought for Gratz’s speech.

“The university gave funding to the liberal group, but then turned around and denied that very same funding to YAL, a libertarian group,” said David Hacker, senior legal counsel with the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the libertarian students, in an interview with The College Fix.

“Despite the university’s policy against funding political and religious activities of student organizations, (campus leaders) have provided funding … for political and religious activities,” the lawsuit states. “For example, the (student government) has funded … Amnesty International, Migrant and Immigrant Rights Advocacy, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (among many others).”

This demonstrates that campus leaders regularly favor some student groups over others based on the content and viewpoint of the groups, the suit contends.

In a statement to the Michigan Daily campus newspaper, a spokeswoman for a pro-affirmative action student group on campus said her organization has been denied funding “plenty of times” in the past.

“We reject any claim that white or conservative student groups are being discriminated against and minority student groups are being favored in the way these funding decisions are being made,” she stated.

via Campus Refuses to Fund Anti-Affirmation Action Event, But Funds Pro-Affirmative Action Effort.

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