University of Florida requires students to pay a mandatory Activity and Service Fee and then allocates those funds for student expression. The university maintains two categories of registered student organizations—budgeted and non-budgeted. However, despite Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) existing for nearly two years, the university has denied YAF the right to be a budgeted organization and used the fees collected from YAF members to fund other similarly situated organizations that promote opposing viewpoints. The university’s current policy allows it to favor popular views and exclude or dampen unpopular views.
The lawsuit, Young Americans for Freedom v. University of Florida, challenges the university’s policy which grants the University of Florida Student Government free rein to allocate mandatory student fees back to certain student groups for student advocacy. The current policy allows fees to be distributed using undefined and subjective criteria, and it fails to provide an appeals process if the organization’s request for funding is denied. Even if the student organization meets all published criteria to become budgeted, there is no guarantee or requirement that the group actually receives money because a student body treasurer and president can disqualify the group from funding at their whim.
In response to the students’ lawsuit, the University of Florida has agreed to pay $66,000 and replace policies that were used to deny funding to Young Americans for Freedom with more fair and viewpoint-neutral policies.
Institution: University of Florida
Location: Gainesville, FL
Topic: Student Fees