UMN students sue the University over fee usage

The lawsuit states that subsidization of student cultural centers and campus media groups is unconstitutional.

Passersby walk next to Coffman Union on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. 

Jasmin Kemp

Passersby walk next to Coffman Union on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. 

Jasmine Snow

A group of University of Minnesota students filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Board of Regents on Thursday for using student service fees to provide spaces for certain student groups in Coffman Union. 

The group Viewpoint Neutrality Now!, along with students Evan Smith and Isaac Smith, claim the use of student fees to provide nine student cultural centers on the second floor of the Coffman Union with subsidized space is unconstitutional according to the First Amendment, per their attorney, Erick Kaardal. 

According to the complaint, Viewpoint Neutrality Now! is an “association of University of Minnesota students who pay student services fees … which was formed to support and advocate for viewpoint neutrality and other reforms.”

The student group is not recognized by the University, so it does not receive funding from student services fees.

The student cultural centers at the Memorial Union in question include the Black Student Union, the La Raza Student Cultural Center, the Disabled Student Cultural Center, the Feminist Student Activist Collective, the Queer Student Cultural Center, the Asian-American Student Union, the Minnesota International Student Association, the American Indian Student Cultural Center and the Al-Madinah Cultural Center.

“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,” said Kaardal in a press release Friday night. “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.”

Per Kaardal’s statement, the lawsuit also includes a challenge against, “University policies favoring media groups such as the Minnesota Daily and Radio K, nonpartisan groups and existing groups.”

Clarification: Viewpoint Neutrality Now! is not a University-recognized student group.

This is a breaking news report. More information may be added as it becomes available.