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Tipsheet

College Students Sue Professor Who Forced Students to Fund Left-Wing Political Group

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Two students at Michigan State University filed a lawsuit against their former professor for allegedly forcing them to fund a liberal political group that supports organizations that contradict with their religious convictions. 

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The students, Nathan Barbieri and Nolan Radomski, are in their second year at the university. They are filing the lawsuit against their former instructor, Amy Wisner, because she allegedly forced her students to pay a $99 membership fee to “The Rebellion Community” as a class requirement for the 2023 spring semester (via the New York Post):

Barbieri and Radomski soon discovered that Wisner was the creator and controller of The Rebellion Community and alleged she used the estimated $60,000 collected from them and their peers to fund groups like Planned Parenthood that go against their anti-abortion beliefs, according to the 88-page complaint filed last week.

“Defendant Wisner controlled The Rebellion Community and used the membership fees to finance her own political advocacy and to support external groups — including Planned Parenthood — that engage in political speech that is antithetical to the Plaintiffs’ deeply held beliefs,” the document states.

The required course fee gave the students access to a private online portal available through the group’s website, but the students said the portal was unnecessary and duplicative because Michigan State University already has an online platform for course material at no extra cost to students.

Wisner said the membership fees were used to pay for use of the technology and to pay guest speakers, educators and facilitators in a disclosure message on the site.

“Your professor does not receive any financial compensation from your membership fees as that would be a conflict of interest,” the disclosure read, according to the suit.

However, on her own Facebook page, Wisner posted that membership fees to The Rebellion Community, which is open to all, are donated to Planned Parenthood.

“The Rebellion community is a safe place to coordinate our efforts to burn everything to the f–king [ground],” Wisner wrote in the post, according to the complaint. “100% of membership fees are donated to Planned Parenthood.”

[...]

The students also alleged that Wisner used revenue generated from her students’ membership fees to purchase an RV that she was planning to use for a cross-country road trip with her two kids and three pets “to co-create communities of rebels committed to doing the work together.”

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Reportedly, after the complaint, the university placed Wisner on leave and found another instructor to teach her students for the rest of the semester. The school refunded students their membership fees for the Rebellion Community. 

The two students noted in the lawsuit that the refund came from the school and not the teacher and that she is using the funds to “tour the country in an RV.” The students are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. 

“University professors can’t force students to finance and support political advocacy groups that express messages they disagree with,” Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Logan Spena said. “Nathan and Nolan simply want to get a business degree without being compelled to pay membership fees that will be donated to Planned Parenthood or support speech that directly contradicts their religious beliefs.”

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