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U. New Mexico student gov. allocates $10K for conservative speakers; liberals cheesed

The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico recently OK’d funding to the campus College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom so they can host speakers Christina Hoff Sommers and Ben Shapiro.

Five thousand dollars was allocated for each, or 50% of Sommers’ and Shapiro’s speaking fees.

But — surprise! — progressives are none too happy about it.

The Daily Lobo reports that ASUNM Sen. Hallie Brown says that “these particular speakers” shouldn’t be funded by students’ fees.

She alleges Sommers is “an avid victim-blamer, she actively participates in rape culture, and that is something our campus is trying to combat,” while Shapiro “promotes exclusivity, specifically devaluing the experience for people of color and blatantly ignoring the importance of diversity of thought.”

Consider especially those last eight words … and then enjoy a good guffaw.

Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) President Sierra Ludington agrees with Brown on the student fees issue, saying “While we have no interest in denying freedom of speech, we just feel like this money should not be coming from our student fees. The University has already put thousands of dollars into the Milo (Yiannopoulos) event.”

But Senator Francine Briones schooled both of her peers by pointing to the US Supreme Court case Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth:

Briones said in that case, a student at the University of Wisconsin, Scott Harold Southworth, did not like the way his student funds were being allocated.

Southworth petitioned to not pay student fees since he did not want his money going to groups he didn’t agree with. The university disagreed, and Southworth sued the university.

The first court ruled in favor of Southworth, that he should be able to withhold his student fees because they didn’t align with his beliefs, Briones said.

MORE: Liberal commencement speakers overwhelmingly outweigh conservative ones

However, when the case came before the Supreme Court, they ruled that “the First Amendment permits a public university to charge its students an activity fee used to fund a program to facilitate extracurricular student speech, provided that the program is viewpoint neutral.”

Briones said this set a precedent that universities do have the right to impose mandatory fees so long as they are allocated “in a viewpoint-neutral fashion.”

“We cannot make a decision based on a student not wanting their fees to go to this (event). We have to go by what this says,” Briones said.

UNM College Republicans Chairwoman Marina Herrera said that “Our University can’t survive by saying we are going to start censoring because it gets tighter and tighter until eventually we are not having conversations about real topics.

“Because these speakers are so controversial, that’s why we want to bring them.”

Read the full story.

MORE: Students could be expelled for shouting down campus speakers

MORE: Public university to spend $52K on spate of liberal speakers

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.