Fund Campus Republicans

Last week, the student fees committee denied funding to four student groups. Three were denied funding on technical grounds. The fourth, Campus Republicans, was denied funding because it was considered a “partisan group.”

Campus Republicans is beneficial to the University community in that it fosters an exchange of ideas by sponsoring events on campus. Campus Republicans allows students of all political associations to participate and attend meetings. Additionally, Campus Republicans is an organized group with a fiscally responsible proposal. It should receive funding.

The decision by the student fees committee to deny funding to Campus Republicans is also inconsistent with the Supreme Court decision made in Southworth v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. The fees committee’s decision might be unconstitutional and the Campus Republicans might make such a case.

The Southworth case hinges on the term “viewpoint-neutral funding,” which means funding cannot be denied simply because of a group’s beliefs. As the University DFL has traditionally been denied funding, it is probably not the case that the Campus Republicans were denied funding because it had a specific ideology. Rather, the fees committee denied the Campus Republicans funding simply because it has a political ideology.

In its defense, the fees committee insists it does not fund “partisan groups,” and perhaps it really means politically affiliated groups. However, the fees committee does fund the Minnesota Student Association as well as various religious groups. Because part of the University’s mission is to foster a free exchange of ideas, it should not matter whether a group is partisan or political.

Campus Republicans meets the criteria for a student group that is beneficial to the University’s mission. The fees committee should fund the Campus Republicans and other political groups that meet the same criteria it does.