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How Supreme Court Decision May Affect Student Fees

A case before the Supreme Court could affect state colleges across the country. The court must decide whether student fees can be used to fund any campus group--even if the contributing students don't support the group's views.

At UND, athletics, tutoring centers and political groups are all funded by mandatory student fees. At the University of North Dakota a 7-person committee of students, faculty and staff and the student government distribute the funds and members say groups who ask for money usually get it.  At issue is whether students who oppose how their fees are spent can withhold their money.

Students have mentioned before that they disagree with different committees or actions of groups and they wish their student money weren't going to that. And it makes it really difficult because it's hard to regulate that. UND students attending full time are billed 476 dollars a year in fees. Part time students pay 19 dollars a credit. That money funds groups with a variety of agendas--whether some students agree with them or not. That's what a university is all about--free exchange of ideas to be challenged by them. Even if you don't like the idea you can listen to it. But an affirmative Supreme Court ruling would mean students who disagree with that distribution could demand fee refunds. The Supreme Court decision is expected in June.

Source: WDAZ News, November 10, 1999