St. Cloud Times

Opinion: Minnesota State University System Supports Group that Lobbies Government to Bail out Students

June 17, 2024

(St. Cloud Times)—It’s harder than it used to be to get through college without taking out loans. But I did it.

When I was in 11th and 12th grade, I took classes at St. Cloud State University through a Minnesota program that allows high-school students to earn college credit tuition-free. Then, for my third and final year (I finished early), I covered my tuition through an internship and money I had earned and saved while working part-time jobs for several years.

This past month, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting—completely debt-free.

So, I was annoyed to learn shortly before I graduated that some of the money my college had charged me for my degree was going to a group called Students United—and that this group was using my money to, among other things, lobby the government to bail out students who do take on loans…

… This isn’t just unfair, it also violates students’ First Amendment rights to choose what groups they’ll join and what political speech they’ll pay for. I shouldn’t have had to give up those rights just to attend a state school.

So, I’ve filed a federal lawsuit against Students United and the Minnesota State board to get my money back. I am represented pro bono by attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center and the Upper Midwest Law Center.

This lawsuit isn’t just about the money—it’s about holding the university system and Students United accountable for violating students’ rights. With a court decision making clear to them that what they’re doing is unconstitutional, they will have to be transparent with the next Minnesotan students who enroll.

The First Amendment protects Students United’s right to say “Fck Student Debt” and to wave the middle finger—but it also protects the rest of us from being “united” with it against our will and from being forced to pay for its vulgarity and political agenda.

Tayah Lackie, a recent graduate of St. Cloud State University, is a plaintiff in the case Lackie v. Students United. Her full opinion piece is available here in the St. Cloud Times.