Students Sue Michigan Professor For Charging Fees To Fund Her Social Activist Group

Emma Campbell | May 24, 2023
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A Michigan State University professor is being sued for requiring her students to pay fees that funded her social activism as part of a class.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on May 18 on behalf of Nathan Barbieri and Nolan Radomski, both undergraduates at Michigan State University, against a former professor and two MSU administrators for violating their First Amendment rights after the students were allegedly forced to pay a membership fee for an organization that advanced viewpoints that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.

According to the lawsuit, Amy Wisner, a professor of marketing at the MSU College of Business, required her 600 students to pay a $99 membership fee for “The Rebellion Community," an organization focused on social activism that was “created and controlled” by Wisner.

After paying for the subscription, the lawsuit states that students were shown a message asserting that Wisner “[did] not receive any financial compensation from [their] membership fees as that would be a conflict of interest.”

Barbieri and Radomski later discovered that was false, and that Wisner used the funds (which amounted to around $60,000 each time she taught the class) to donate to advocacy groups whose beliefs directly conflicted with many of the students'.

Additionally, students’ subscription fees allegedly funded her purchase of an RV to travel the U.S. to “co-create communities of rebels committed to doing the work together” according to an August 16 post on her Facebook.

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The lawsuit also presented a Facebook post Wisner made in June (which has since been taken down), identifying The Rebellion Community as “a safe space to coordinate our efforts to burn everything to the f***ing ground,” and that “100% of membership fees are donated to Planned Parenthood.”

“University professors can’t force students to finance and support political advocacy groups that express messages they disagree with,” Logan Spena, ADF Legal Counsel for the plaintiffs, said. 

According to the lawsuit, The Rebellion Community has “few, if any, fee-paying members…who are not MSU students,” since most of the 1157 members can be accounted for as Wisner’s students.

After complaints were filed against Wisner, the university gave each student enrolled in her class a $99 credit, but Wisner is still able to use the money from those subscriptions to support her cause.

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