Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow plans to take the University of Wisconsin to a court after a final appeal for funding was rejected by Chancellor Biddy Martin..�
CFACT is a conservative campus group that promotes solutions to environmental problems found in the free market, not within the government, according to its mission statement.
CFACT has received funding from the university since 2005, receiving $128,600 last school year. However, the Student Services Finance Committee, which is responsible for doling out funds to student groups, denied the group funding for the 2009-10 school year last fall for not meeting all eligibility requirements. The committee voted 0-3-1 against CFACT.SSFC denied funding due to CFACT’s inability to submit a complete end of the year report, therefore making their application incomplete, and because they did not see the group’s campaign as a direct service to students.
SSFC later granted funding to another student organization, Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group, a left-leaning campus group whose direct service was also found to be campaigns but included advocacy training, which was considered by SSFC to be a direct service to UW students.
After being denied funding, CFACT President James Hill filed a complaint with the Student Judiciary, arguing committee members, specifically SSFC Rep. Kyle Szarzynski, violated viewpoint neutrality in denying them funding while granting funding to WISPIRG.
While Szarzynski saw CFACT’s campaigns as more of a “series of events” rather than a direct service, he viewed WISPRIG’s campaigning and advocacy training as a direct service, a distinction which the Student Judiciary viewed as viewpoint neutral.
“[Szarzynski’s vote] demonstrates the differences he views between the two organizations,” said Associate Justice Nicholas Lillios in the judgment. “Further, there is no evidence that would suggest that these interpretations were made with any preference or bias in favor of one organization over the other.”
Hill also asserted there was a violation of due process as he claimed CFACT turned in their end of the year report on time, but due to SSFC’s “clerical negligence,” they were not granted funding. The Student Judiciary ruled there was no evidence of such clerical negligence, thus ultimately upholding SSFC’s decision to deny funding.
CFACT appealed the decision to Martin, which she subsequently rejected..
In a letter to Hill and Fergus written April 2, Martin ruledthat,� regardless of viewpoint discrimination, CFACT funding would still not be restored due to its incomplete eligibility application.�
“With no basis to change the outcome for CFACT, the remaining issues regarding viewpoint neutrality and equal protection no longer require addressing,” Martin said in the letter.
Martin explained this further in a letter dated June 8 to four state senators and five state representatives, who CFACT lobbied to convince Martin to overturn ASM’s decision. Among those supporting legislators was Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend.
“It doesn’t seem right that WISPIRG get state funding and CFACT does not,” Grothman said. “It seems to me that one more time the university is displaying the left-wing bias. … It seems as though this was a one-sided decision made for political reasons.”
Now, after having explored all the internal appeals processes, CFACT will fight for funding through the courts, according to CFACT National Director Bill Giles.
Until then, the group will continue to work on campus using money received from an ASM grant, totaling only 10 percent of last year’s funding, which provides them with small operational costs including printing.
“CFACT is still going to be on campus. We’re not going away just because ASM wants us to,” Giles said. “We will still continue with our programming … and continue to fight ASM and the chancellor’s decision.”