Student services fees separate old friends

Last month five students, with the aid of conservative Christian attorney Jordan Lorence, filed a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the current system of distributing the mandatory student fee of $158.01 to a variety of student groups. One of the five students is Matt Curry.
I’ve known Matt since our first days at the University of Minnesota almost four years ago. Matt and I both participated in, and later worked as Junior Tutors for, the Residential College Program at Argyle House. We’ve planned programs and even recently attended a job interview together. But, I’m deeply saddened by his recent lawsuit against the University’s fee allocation system.
I know that Matt is not pursuing this lawsuit for fame or some exorbitant settlement. Instead, this lawsuit is against something that he honestly believes to be unjust. Though this is honorable and highly respectable, I’m pleading with Matt and his friends to reconsider.
As much as the University would like to consider itself a diverse institution, it is not. Minority representation here is well below the national average. I don’t have to get up on my soapbox and address the continuing struggle for equality to emphasize the need for the La Raza Student Cultural Center, the Queer Student Cultural Center, and the University Young Women.
These student groups depend on continued revenue from the student service fees. Every dollar counts because budgets are drawn up based upon requested allocations. Every time these budgets are cut, programs have to be canceled, fliers cannot be distributed, and staff must be reduced.
Students should have the opportunity to be exposed to ideas that differ from their own. This is the cornerstone of the First Amendment. Yet, the most endangered species in our great land of freedom is someone who retains his or her freedom of speech. If these student groups receive even a dollar less than what they have requested, are we not limiting their ability to spread their message?
I wonder if Matt remembers those first few days freshman year? Attending one of the largest universities in the country was an intimidating and daunting venture. We had the benefit of being the first group of students in the Residential College program, which provided a service for us to find students with the same interests and passions as ourselves. If this lawsuit is successful, are we not taking away the same opportunities for students of different sexual preferences, gender, or race that we had when were freshmen?
I understand that Matt is concerned that these student groups promote a political ideology or lifestyle that is different from Judeo-Christian teachings. I understand that Matt just wants the ability to choose which organizations get part of his whopping $158.01 and which ones get to compete with the Girls Scouts of America, selling cookies door to door to make up for the lost revenue. But at what point does it stop?
Let’s play the “What if?” game for a moment. What if students are allowed to choose which student groups receive student fee money? What if the three groups in question lose enough revenue that they have to close their doors? To some this may be a righteous victory. But I assure you, our society and our reputation as a prestigious Big Ten university known for its diversity would become undermined.
I’m not asking Matt to personally take responsibility for helping these groups, but he must become aware of the repercussions of his actions. According to him, these groups “embrace the abortion movement, champion the homosexual lifestyle and support the regime in Cuba.” If you don’t agree with these student groups, don’t attend their functions. But don’t take away programs that aid students of different sexual preferences, gender, or racial heritages by cutting their fiscal throats. The Matt of four years ago that I knew would have never done something so audacious.
Dan Friker is a senior ineconomics and the Daily’s accounts receivable clerk.