Student fees case settled

OHIO ‘ Students from Miami University who were suing the university for prohibiting the use of student fees for student religious groups but not for other ideological organizations settled out of court in September.

Eleven former and current students brought the suit in June 1999. The plaintiffs were attempting to overturn the policy on how student fees were allocated to campus organizations and activities.

The suit also challenged the mandate to pay student fees. The students believed fees should not be mandated if the money was then allocated to organizations with whom they disagreed.

The settlement comes after the Supreme Court’s March 2000 decision in another case dealing with the allocation of student fees.

In Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth, the Court ruled that a university could compel unwilling students to pay student fees to organizations whose views they opposed as long as the university distributes the funds in a viewpoint-neutral approach.

Southworth cleared up that universities can use student fees to fund organizations but it also set forth the requirement that it be done in a viewpoint-neutral manner,’ said Randy Blankenship, the students’ attorney.

Under the terms of the settlement, Miami University has devised a new system to allocate the funds. All student groups can receive funding subsidized by student fees. The money will be allocated for specific activities rather than the entire organization, making all student organizations eligible for funding.