Rutgers Law School has rescinded the school's constitutional amendment that required any student group seeking funding from the Student Bar Association (SBA) to plan an event that promotes critical race theory.
The SBA previously required any group seeking more than $250 to promote critical race theory; 19 out of 22 groups requested more than $250 last year.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a letter to Rutgers University asking the SBA to rescind the requirement, saying that public universities must distribute funding in a belief-neutral manner.
"Rutgers may not condition student organizations’ funding on their willingness to host events that address or promote a specific ideology, as the First Amendment requires that public universities distribute student activity fee funds in a viewpoint-neutral manner," the letter stated.
"The Rutgers student government is holding student group funding hostage until students commit to a particular ideology," FIRE program officer Zach Greenberg said. "Students shouldn't be forced to choose between their club’s funding and their own convictions."
The amendment to the SBA's constitution was entitled "Student Organizations Fosters Diversity and Inclusion." The section stated that any student group seeking more than $250 in university funding must "plan at least one (1) event that addresses their chosen topics through the lens of Critical Race Theory, diversity and inclusion, or cultural competency."
FIRE also asked: "This puts student clubs in a bind: Should they request the funding they need, even though it would require planning an event — such as hosting a speaker, outing, or mixer — that may be at odds with or unrelated to the group’s own views?"
The SBA then sent an email to the university community backing down and rescinding the amendment with a resistant tone. "We hate the idea of backing down, just because the 'other guys' say so, and we hate that we have to factor in those that oppose measures to foster diversity and inclusion, we do," the email stated. The SBA ignored the concerns around their policy but instead made it about the feasibility and legal battles: "We think – and we hope, we can still create change, still fight for what is right, and pass this amendment, or something similar again. But right now, we know that if we dig our heels in now, this way, we run the risk of never being able to accomplish what we set out to do."
FIRE responded to the university: "As a public university, Rutgers is bound by the First Amendment, which prohibits discrimination based on viewpoint. The SBA’s amendment was blatantly unconstitutional because it made funding conditional upon the promotion of an ideology and would discriminate against any student group that objects to the 'lens' of critical race theory or wishes to remain neutral."