Student groups must

It’s an issue of fairness. At a U.S. District Court hearing last Thursday, a judge heard three statements arguing whether a third party should be allowed to testify in the University’s student services fees lawsuit. The student plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit against the University’s Board of Regents recently stated that they don’t want a third party testifying in court. This double standard discourages fair and equal representation. Not allowing the student groups named in the lawsuit to testify on their own behalf infringes on the overall purpose of the suit. Because these organizations would be most affected by the ruling, they should be allowed to testify.
The five University students filed the lawsuit in February contesting that the student fees distribution is unfair. The students argue that their constitutional rights are being violated. They do not want to pay fees to groups whose ideas contradict their own. The suit targets three student groups in particular: La Raza Student Cultural Center, the Queer Student Cultural Cente, and University YW. The student fees paid to these three groups totals $1.04 quarterly per student.
Because these groups are specifically targeted in the lawsuit, they want to testify together as a third party. In a joint statement given to the court Thursday, the three organizations said the regents have different interests in the case than do the student groups. The groups argue that the regents are mainly interested in protecting the current fees program. The students want to ensure the survival of their organizations. The regents also filed a statement that said they do not object to intervention by a third party. The plaintiffs, however, said the regents would sufficiently represent the proposed third party’s interests in court. Each student group has a mission that the University deems important enough to require financial support. These causes can only be properly illustrated by the students who work to support them.
Given their different interests, the student organizations have the right to defend their programs and policies in court. It is the future of these organizations that will be determined. If successful, the five plaintiffs will have $1.04 more in their pockets each quarter and be able to say that they defended their principles. However, the three student groups would feel the aftershocks of a successful lawsuit on a much deeper level. The suit is about more than the University’s mandatory fees system. By targeting specific groups, it has become a battle over the longevity of these organizations. Without student support, the groups will likely cease to exist. This alone earns them the right to speak on their own behalf. If the five students are allowed to testify as to why the fees are unconstitutional, then the student organizations should be allowed to testify as to why they are not.
A similar case is taking place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Instead of perpetuating silence between the involved parties, a dialogue between students and regents is encouraged. In the University’s case, the plaintiffs want silence from the true defendants. If the students filing the suit have a solid case, they should not feel threatened by the testimony of these groups. It is evident that there are many different arguments in the case. All three parties should have their day in court.