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UNL to change its fee policy after Christian group sues

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Posted at 1:23 PM, Nov 23, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will consider changing its policy on the way student fees are distributed after being sued by a Christian student group that alleged it had been discriminated against.

The changes the Board of Regents will consider at its meeting next month are part of a settlement between the university and the Ratio Christi student group that said in its lawsuit that it was denied funding to bring a Christian philosopher to campus as a guest speaker, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

Ratio Christi said the university's Fee Allocation Committee improperly denied its request for $1,500 to bring a former UNL faculty member who now teaches at the University of Notre Dame to campus to deliver a speech.

The group said it was told the fee money couldn't be used to bring “speakers of a political or ideological nature” to campus unless someone with a differing viewpoint was also brought in. Ratio Christi said it wasn't looking to host a debate, and it pointed out several other examples of other speakers who were compensated without other viewpoints being offered.

The group's members ultimately paid Audi themselves to come to campus.

A university spokesperson said the settlement was still being finalized so she couldn't release all the details.

But the Regents will consider updating the fee policy that was last changed in 1979 to adopt a set of “viewpoint-neutral” factors that will be used to determine whether fees can be used to pay for a speaker.

In the future, speakers will be judged on their academic reputation, whether they “advance the educational mission of the university” and whether they offer a different topic than other speakers invited that year among other factors. There will also be an appeal process if fees are denied.

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