On March 13, the state Senate passed a resolution on the University of Tennessee that would require parents to opt-in to allowing student fees to go towards events deemed “controversial or objectionable”.
“My initial reaction was that we are college students who can vote, run for elected office, serve in the military, pay taxes, be tried in court as an adult, marry and the only persons who decide how student fees should be allocated are the students,” said Lisa Dicker, president of the Central Programming Counsel at the University of Tennessee. “This is not a parent fee, and, as adults, we do not need parental consist for what events we host and attend on campus.”
CPC is the primary source for student programming at the University of Tennessee. CPC brings in speakers and performers from around the world and carries on some of the universities oldest traditions such as All-Sing and Homecoming.
“I hope that parents understand the value of having diverse opinions and ideas heard on campus and that they have confidence in the ability of their adult students to manage and allocate their own fees and chose what events to host and attend on campus,” said Dicker.
The resolution was sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville and decries the ‘radical agenda’ of the student run Sex Week.
“Since it is a resolution, it is non-binding, but if it were implemented, there would be many negative consequences,” said Dicker. “Any government micromanaging of campus life opens the door for more. Students groups that program may find themselves severely underfunded. Since each student has a different opinion on what is controversial, it would be impossible to label what allocation of fees is going to controversial spending. Students would lose their voice in the allocation of fees.”
Dicker thinks the state legislators are over stepping their adjuration and this resolution will harm open dialogue on campus.
“Specially speaking towards the controversial or objectionable section, I think it defeats the purpose of having a public university,” said Dicker. “Universities are supposed to be a forum for open dialogue, debate, and discussion that welcome all views and expose students to diverse opinions in thought.”
Currently, funds designated for programming are distributed by the University Programs and Services Fee Allocation Board. The money for USPF comes out of each student’s tuition. It is student run; chaired by student government president with several other student appointments and advised by faculty members.
“Students are tired of being referred to as children in these discussions,” said Dicker. “In addition to the “opt-in” section, students have been very concerned about the section that resolves for more administrators and faculty to be on the UPSF board than students.”
This measure comes after several proposed bills by Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield to limit the way student funding is used for events on campus after Sex Week announced its second year on campus. Campfield will continue to pursue legislation to specifically limit which outside speakers can be invited to campus.
“A point to hammer home is that this is not about Sex Week,” said Dicker. “This is about every one of our over 400 student organizations on campus. This is about every student at the University of Tennessee and every student at public colleges and universities across the state. This is about students having the right to levy, allocate, and use our own fees through systems that the students themselves have created and implemented. This is about student fees and student freedom.”
Edited by Zach Dennis