The Student Press Law Center is reporting on a ridiculous situation at the University of Memphis. Memphis’s student-run Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) has voted to reduce the funding for the student newspaper The Daily Helmsman by $25,000, or one-third of its previous funding. Here’s the kicker:
Helmsman editors said they have been told by several committee members — including student government representatives and university administrators — that the cuts are due to growing displeasure with the newspaper’s content.
If this is true, it represents a grave First Amendment violation. If the University of Memphis, a public institution, wanted to reduce funding for any student group, it would have to comply with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217 (2000), requiring viewpoint neutrality in funding decisions. Writing for the majority in Southworth, Justice Kennedy held:
When a university requires its students to pay fees to support the extracurricular speech of other students, all in the interest of open discussion, it may not prefer some viewpoints to others.
Read More at The Fire