I am writing to ask for your assistance in dealing with a series of glaring First Amendment violations occurring on the watch of Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough. President Clough is aware (from my previous columns) that these things are happening. By the end of this short column, you will know everything you need to know to curtail President Clough’s indifference to constitutional principles. In so doing, you will be able to restore basic political and religious liberties that have long been abandoned by Georgia Tech.
First, I would like to direct your attention to the following link on Georgia Institute of Technology website:
More specifically, I would like for you to spend a few minutes looking at the following lines concerning the allocation of mandatory student activity fees at Georgia Tech:
“The following activities will not be funded in budgets: i) Partisan Political Activities ii) Religious Activities iii) Social Fraternal Activities and, iv) Events with alcohol present.”
As you may well know, the United States Supreme Court was asked - just five years ago – to abolish mandatory student activity fees at public institutions of higher learning. A student at the University of Wisconsin led the charge for the abolition of these fees on the theory that they compelled him to associate with ideas with which he disagreed. The Supreme Court – in Wisconsin v. Southworth (2000) - rejected that argument with the following language:
The University may determine that its mission is well served if students have the means to engage in dynamic discussions of philosophical, religious, scientific, social, and political subjects in their extracurricular campus life outside the lecture hall. If the University reaches this conclusion, it is entitled to impose a mandatory fee to sustain an open dialogue to these ends.
This language makes it very clear that Georgia Tech is within its rights in imposing a mandatory student activity fee on its students. At Georgia Tech, a portion of that money is used to fund various student groups. The Supreme Court, while approving of such fees, also demands that those disbursing the fees use “viewpoint neutrality as the operational principle” for redistribution. The following explains that principle and links to an important precedent, which explains the principle further: