Fees suit sparks reader debate

Editor’s note: Readers have sent the Daily an overwhelming number of letters about the lawsuit filed by five students against the University’s mandatory fees system. Today’s opinions page presents a sampling of the letters we’ve received.

Suit intends to end student-run fee system
Do not be deceived about the nature and the intent of the lawsuit against the University Board of Regents. While we engage in important public discussions regarding racism, sexism and homophobia, the actual intent of the lawsuit goes undiscussed.
This is a lawsuit against the student-run fees system. The mentioning of La Raza, the University Young Women and the Queer Student Cultural Center are diversions. Organizations funded by student fees range from the Recreation Center to Como Community Child Care Services. This lawsuit undermines the stable funding systems for all these organizations.
Many students have called for a change in the current student-controlled fees system. A 1996-97 nonpartisan task force was developed to evaluate different student fees structures and found that a system such as the refusable, refundable system, which currently funds the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, has a 55-65 percent compliance rate. Imagine the type of services you would receive at Boynton if their funding was cut by 35-45 percent.
Additionally, the task force found that a donation system with a yes or no check-off had a two to 10 percent compliance. How would the Recreation Center or the Minnesota Student Association be able to operate at 10 percent of its current budget? Virtually all student services funded by the student service fee would be destroyed or destabilized by a change in the fee structure, regardless of their popularity.
I am outraged that five students would choose to destroy the student-driven fees system. People who disagree with the current fees can run for MSA, vote for candidates who support low student service fees, run for the fees committee, voice their opinions at public hearings or e-mail the chair of the committee with their concerns.
Yet rather than work within that student process, these five students decide to waste thousands of my tuition dollars in legal fees paid by the Regents to destroy a democratic, student-controlled fees system.
Lynne Saxton,senior, College of Liberal Arts

Gay community needs safe space
In response to Andrew Kipp’s Monday letter, “Homosexuality is not diversity,” if it needs to be called compromise or tolerance then by all means call it what you like. But since we do not live in a theocracy, whether queer people are sinners is an entirely subjective and personal viewpoint.
The Queer Student Cultural Center is a necessary resource for queer college students precisely because of matter-of-fact statements like “Christians should treat homosexuals as anyone else who sins openly.” When there is still hostility that can be written so calmly, without even questioning what it is you are saying and how it affects people, shouldn’t that support the need for a cultural center for the group the hostility is directed toward?
Homosexuality is diversity within our culture because of the way we’ve defined sexuality. By making heterosexuality the only widely accepted norm, we’ve alienated anyone who doesn’t fit into that narrow picture. By alienating queer people, society pushed them together and created shared experiences. The community formed by these shared experiences is politically and socially active and still fighting for its civil rights. The need for a safe space to gather is apparent, especially when people like Kipp go on their sinner diatribes and probably give a lot of queer people a bad start to their days.
Sara Hurley,senior, College of Liberal Arts

You can be gay and religious
Throughout the debate on the student service fee lawsuit, a dangerous assumption has been made by some supporters of the lawsuit. As I understand their argument, the sincerely held religious beliefs of the five students prevent them from supporting the Queer Student Cultural Center and other groups that are a part of our campus community.
This argument rests on the assumption that being religious and being queer are mutually exclusive. As a part of our campus interfaith group for queer community members and friends, I can attest that it is truly possible to be both religious and queer. But instead of trying to fit individuals into certain categories and stereotypes, my sincerely held religious beliefs encourage me to embrace and support the uniqueness of every person in our campus community.
Amie Lewandowski,senior, Institute of Technology

Suit doesn’t silence anyone
The lawsuit being brought against the University Board of Regents is not meant to inhibit anyone’s free speech or to take away their funding. Being a Christian, I feel that God gave people free will and the right to do whatever they want, right or wrong. Who am I to try to force my beliefs on anyone else? Simply not supporting another person or group is far from forcing my beliefs on them. In no way does this lawsuit say that they want to silence any organization or stop their funding. It just gives us a choice in where our money goes.
Everyone should be able to think what they want. I simply feel that I should not have to give money to ideals that are detrimental to society. I know in saying this I will surely bring accusations of homophobia and bigotry on myself, but I feel that any person or group that promotes sinful behavior, whether that is abortion or homosexuality, is harmful.
Christians have had a few good ideas in the past, such as not killing, not stealing, loving your neighbor and loving your enemy. Don’t simply start to fight as soon as you hear the word Christian and you will see that we work for the good of all and the salvation of souls, even though it may hurt sometimes.
Dale Larson,freshman, Institute of Technology

Doesn’t want to pay for offensive groups
After reading the March 4 letters to the editor, I felt a little clarification was needed on the student lawsuit issue. Several of the readers presented commentary attacking the basis of the lawsuit or Khalid Kader’s Muslim position on the issue.
What’s important for people to realize is that those of us who support the lawsuit do so because we are opposed to paying for the groups in question. Personally, I’m opposed to their actions, but I’m not going to start that fight because I think that they should be allowed to gather and discuss their agendas.
What isn’t right is that other students should be forced to fund them.
Chris Boik,senior, Institute of Technology
Let exclusive groups find funding
I’m usually a pretty passive person when it comes to these things, but I am finally motivated enough to throw my voice into the melee. The issue of where the student services fees are going seemed to originate as whether or not the fees are going to fund organizations that are not all-inclusive.
The student services fees are a pretty hefty chunk of cash — about $500 a year for full-time students. Some people disputed the mandatory fees due to their religious convictions. I think the issue goes beyond that.
For example, I regularly use the Recreation Center, while much of the student population chooses not to. Nobody has written in complaining about the $50 a year they contribute to that, not to mention other big money pits like the St. Paul Student Center or Coffman Union. The student cultural centers are part of the school, no more or no less than the lunchroom in any school. However, we all know that neither little Susie or little Billy at the local public elementary school has to fund any organization that relates to religion, nationality or sexual preference. Why is this any different?
Any of the student cultural centers relating to gender, race, religion or sexual preference are not all-inclusive. Either every student should be given the choice of paying for any of these or every student should be required to pay for any and every student organization.
I can tell you which scenario would appeal to more people, since everyone is likely to have a problem with funding at least one organization. Just as the members of a church support it themselves, the members of any other group should be responsible for its upkeep. Just think, if the fees were reduced by $100 a quarter, it would be possible for students to give $300 more a year to any organization they like.
Jesse Gamble,freshman, Institute of Technology

Biblical arguments are faulty
Let me make sure I have this correct. Andrew Kipp in his Monday letter, “Homosexuality is not diversity,” is questioning the religious judgment of a group of University religious professionals regarding homosexuality. Before Mr. Kipp cites the Bible as his source of information, I might suggest he read it more carefully.
He says, “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong.” The Old Testament also says it’s a sin to eat pork or shellfish, for a man to shave his beard and calls for death to those who work on the Sabbath. The same passage in Leviticus that says it is a sin for a man to lie with another man also prescribes death for adulterers and for all who curse their parents.
Passages from the New Testament describe anyone who marries after divorce as committing adultery, and command women to remain silent, not teach and give up all authority over men. I suspect Kipp is not in favor of promoting the death penalty for people who cheat on their spouses. I also suspect he has shaved at some point in his life.
Therefore, if Kipp chooses to continue to use the Bible to preach against homosexuality, then I suggest he include himself within that group of sinners he has chosen to condemn. As a Christian, I agree that we are a diverse group.
However, the continued citation of certain biblical passages as a reason to condemn only certain individuals seems more like selective prejudice.
J. Hendrickson,Daily reader

Let students choose who to fund
I have an easy solution to all the ruckus over student fees for campus organizations. Why not have a computer-scanned section on the fee statement where students could choose which organizations they wanted to assist?
Some are concerned that this would allow racism or other such bigotries to develop on campus. This doesn’t have to be true. Even though I am Caucasian, I would gladly support La Raza and other student cultural centers. And those who want to express racist viewpoints often do so already. The section wouldn’t necessarily jump-start any hotbeds of discriminatory thought.
Allowing people to put their money where their mouths are would not be an attempt to promote “isms.” Rather, it would support the principle of freedom of choice.
Reilly Liebhard,student, University of Minnesota Talented Youth Math Program