When reading the Emerald this Thursday, I was greatly disturbed by Mr. Bains’ column on the referendum-funding measure on this ballot. Intentionally or not, Mr. Bains misrepresented a number of issues surrounding the measure, misconstruing the dictum of viewpoint neutrality and of First Amendment speech protection.
First, it is entirely incorrect that “minority viewpoints are shoved out of the discussion” when the ASUO budget is submitted to a referendum. Those in the minority still possess equally as much right to speak their thoughts as those in the majority, it is only when the matter is put to a vote that the minority does not have equal say in the discussion.
If we were to follow Mr. Bains’ reasoning out to its logical conclusion, we would be forced to conclude that all forms of democratic governance violate free speech because the majority has final decision-making authority. The First Amendment grants equal protection to all forms of speech, but it does not grant the minority the right to overrule the majority.
On the issue of viewpoint neutrality, Mr. Bains fails to describe the issue at hand by misrepresenting the Supreme Court ruling in Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth. @@http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-1189.ZS.html@@Viewpoint neutrality does not require that the decision-making body be viewpoint neutral, nor that all groups should receive the same level of funding, nor even that one must fund the both sides of an issue.
Viewpoint neutrality simply means that funding decisions must be based on objective criteria (e.g. the level of services provided) and not ideology. The proposed referendum would violate viewpoint neutrality if one could prove that the voters were making decisions based on the ideology of the proposed recipients, and not objective criteria. In lieu of this argument, I firmly believe that the measure is an excellent means of democratizing the funding process, thus returning more power to the student body.