Judge’s orders: Student groups will be single defendant

by Brian Close

The group of University students challenging the University’s student services fees structure will not have to argue against two separate parties.
Magistrate Judge Jonathan Lebedoff denied a motion last week filed by the three student groups named in the lawsuit. Lebedoff’s decision means the groups will not be allowed to join the case as separate parties.
The lawsuit, brought by five students against the University, alleges that students’ rights are violated by having to help fund U-YW, the Queer Student Cultural Center and La Raza Student Cultural Center, groups with which the plaintiffs claim to have ideological and political differences.
Lebedoff’s order states that the applicants for intervention failed to prove they had a legally protected interest in the case. He wrote that any economic impact on the applicants caused by changes in the fees structure would be “peripheral” to the issues.
Rather, he stated, the plaintiff’s claims “require the University to defend its current fee structure, period.” He stated that adding the three groups to the lawsuit would lengthen and complicate the case.
Heather Sawyer, an attorney from Lambda Legal Defense Fund, who represented the three groups in their motion, said the groups plan to appeal Lebedoff’s decision.
“We certainly intend to fight for our direct involvement on behalf of the three student groups,” Sawyer said.
Jorden Lorence, attorney for the plaintiffs, said Lambda’s arguments have focused on the distribution of the money, rather than the process by which the money is collected from students.
“Lambda is acting as though the students who pay the money have no First Amendment interest,” Lorence said.
Lambda intends to file for appeal in the next few weeks.