Students Shouldn't Be Forced to Support Political Activities

By Locklair, Wesley | Insight on the News, September 5, 1994 | Go to article overview

Students Shouldn't Be Forced to Support Political Activities


Locklair, Wesley, Insight on the News


Imagine President Clinton being forced to contribute to the Republican National Committee. Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn't it--making someone support a cause that he or she opposes? Yet this is exactly what happens at universities and colleges across the country. Groups whose agendas are clearly political are funded through "activity fees" required of full-time students.

The problem isn't that these fees are used to support students groups; it's that all students are compelled to support them -- even those students who may oppose their political agendas.

At the University of South Carolina, where I am a senior, student organizations divide up more than $1 million annually, all taken from the pockets of students. Our fees underwrite the activities of all sorts of groups that I would not support voluntarily, from the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association to Students Allied for a Greener Earth.

Some on campus would argue that the First Amendment rights of bisexual environmental activitists would be jeopardized if their campus funding were cut off. But what about my First Amendment rights -- and my right not to support organizations and activities with which I disagree? Isn't my right to say nothing just as important as someone else's right to protest for animal rights or any other cause? Apparently many colleges don't think so.

Yet in 1993, the California Supreme Court ruled in Smith vs. California Board of Regents that the right to refrain from speech is indeed as important as the right to engage in speech. The court found that "the freedom of students not to be compelled and coerced to subsidize political and ideological causes" cannot be denied. …

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