When it comes to campus life injustices, student fees rank high on any list. On most campuses across the country a mandatory student fee is assessed to each student at the beginning of the year. A portion of this fee, which may be several hundred dollars, will go toward funding various political, religious, and interest groups.
A college requiring you to support groups espousing ideas which you are fundamentally opposed to is most certainly committing injustice. At Intellectual Takeout, we are opposed to funding interest groups' activities with student fees. Should anyone be surprised that tempers flare when money is taken from Muslims and atheists to fund Christian groups like Campus Crusade? Should anyone be surprised that tempers flare when money is taken from conservatives and libertarians to fund the International Socialist Organization? Of course not. Everyone should recognize the injustice.
Sadly, those sorts of things happen regularly on campuses across the country. On occasion, the amount of money various student-led interest groups receive is often in the tens of thousands of dollars range. Some even receive close to $100,000.
There are those who argue that, as long as the schools are taking money from students and redistributing it to various student-led interest groups that conservative and libertarian student groups should get a slice of the pie. Many others argue that taking the money corrupts the conservative or libertarian student group by diminishing the credibility of the message. Whatever your position, if you are interested in reading more about the nuances of redistributing student fees (and you should), the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a very thoughtful piece available here.
This topic is not a new one and has been battled out in the courts on a number of occasions. And while the courts have continued to uphold the constitutionality of mandatory student fees funding student-led interest groups at public universities, there is still action you can take.
We propose that you push for the elimination of using student fees to fund political, religious, or other interest groups on your public or private college campus. How you do this will depend upon on your school's governance. Potentially, students may be able vote on how student fees are distributed. Before you can put together a petition to change student fee distribution, you're going to have to win the hearts and minds of your fellow students. You'll have to write letters to the editor, start discussion groups, pass out literature, and do informal polling on the issue to raise awareness. Once you do a petition, even if it fails, keep going. Your effort will continue to get the issue in front of other students.
Entrenched interest groups are never easy to dislodge. Once an organization realizes that it can get easy money by force, it won't let go easily. You can expect the same on campus. Groups getting funds will likely oppose you, maybe even some supposedly conservative or libertarian groups. Through it all keep your chin up and remember that justice is on your side. And, of course, let Intellectual Takeout know what you're up to. If we can, we're happy to help.