Does The University Of Minnesota Discriminate Against Conservatives?

According to the president of Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, the University of Minnesota has decided to starve conservative action groups into non-existence at their Twin Cities campus. Bill Gilles heads CFACT and has worked to maintain a balance on campus politics and give conservative students a voice at the university. Gilles claims that UM has deliberately defunded the few conservative groups that exist while increasing funding to a plethora of liberal groups, a claim that appears to have some merit based on an initial look at the numbers and at the arguments in the subcommittee recommendation.
Gilles compiled a spreadsheet showing the effect of the university’s funding decision for student groups in the next term:
Liberal Groups………..This Year…………..Next Year
American Indian…….$15,500.00…………$14,138.00
Muslims………………..$58,000.00…………$55,900.00
Africans……………….$10,000.00…………$20,000.00
Asians………………….$53,200.00…………$55,200.00
Black Student Union..$53,900.00………..$49,300.00
Atheists…………………$8,500.00…………..$6,000.00
Alternative Theatre………..$0.00…………$15,000.00
Disabled………………..$28,000.00………..$28,000.00
La Raza………………..$36,400.00………..$42,600.00
International Students..$59,000.00……..$42,700.00
MPIRG………………………$88,000.00…….$80,000.00
Queer Student Center…$29,000.00…….$37,000.00
Voice…………………………$5,000.00………$7,000.00
The Wake (liberal paper)..$91,000.00..$100,000.00
Women’s Collective……….$25,000.00….$28,500.00
The Daily……………….$497,000.00…….$550,000.00
Liberal total………….$1,057,500.00….$1,131,338.00
Conservative Groups
Family Values…………….$5,000.00……………..$0.00
CFACT…………………….$85,000.00……………..$0.00
MN Republic (paper)………….$0.00……..$24,000.00
Conservative Club…………….$0.00……..$15,000.00
Conservative…………….$85,000.00…….$39,000.00
Liberal Advantage……………12 to 1…………..30 to 1
It looks to me like a pretty good prima facie case can be made for a liberal bias just on the basis of those numbers. It gets better when one reviews the report issued by the subcommittee on student organization fees for the reason CFACT gets defunded in this cycle. According to the unanimous opinion of the five members of the subcommittee:

The Student Organizations Fees Subcommittee recommends that Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) be denied funding through the Refusable / Refundable fee. Attendance at CFACT’s events does not justify the fees revenue the Refusable / Refundable mechanism provides. The sub committee felt that the argument that the mechanism allows choice by the students and thus reflects a 40% support for the organization is flawed. The committee was not convinced that CFACT truly reached out to students to change minds or contribute to the marketplace of ideas.

I think that the subcommittee fears that CFACT actually does change minds and contributes to a marketplace of ideas. The committee, based on its disbursements, appears to want a marketplace with fifty brands of the same product instead. It seems to me that if the subcommittee was that concerned about promoting a broad diversity of opinion for students at UMTC, they would spend their money in something more equitable disbursement than a 97% – 3% split between its liberal and conservative action groups.
One other rationale given by the subcommittee doesn’t look very substantial, either. They claim that the U denied funding because half of their funds go to paying executive salaries, some off-campus. The CFACT application shows that of the $89K they requested, $46K went to salaries, and another $7K went to benefits and taxes. However, La Raza, the leftist Latino support organization that has campaigned for the secession of the American Southwest, also shows in its application for $42K expenditures for $17K in salaries and $1200 for benefits and taxes. (It looks like CFACT has better benefits for its workers than La Raza.) The proportions do not seem out of line between the two chapters of national groups, and yet CFACT gets denied any funding while La Raza gets all of their request.
Odd, isn’t it?
The subcommitte chair, Henry Hewes, responded to a CQ inquiry earlier today about their decisions:

The Committee has a set list of viewpoint neutral criteria developed by the University to make funding decisions. In order to recieve funding student groups must demonstrate that their organization satisfies every aspect of the criteria. If a student group is denied funding it is fair to assume that in their presentation to the Committee they were unable to demonstrate ability to satisfy some aspect of the viewpoint neutral criteria. However, if groups are unsatisfied with the process they have the opportunity to meet with the Committee a second time to re-evaluate their application and they also have the opportunity to appeal the decision at the end of the process to the Univeristy itself.
These checks and balances are in place to ensure nuetraility and fairness in the fees allocation process.

A funding ratio of 97-3 equates to “neutrality and fairness” in the world of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities — the school where I currently have my son enrolled. David is a mathematics genius, and perhaps he could explain to the subcommittee what this ratio really represents.
Stay tuned. I plan to invite Bill Gilles on the air with us a week from Saturday to review this story. In the meantime, you can send your own inquiries to the Student Activities Office at this link.