The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has an update from the University of Texas – Austin, where the were serious concerns about the fair distribution of mandatory student fees for the purpose of supporting a variety of student organizations

The trouble at UT began on March 6, when the UT Objectivism Society applied for funding support from the student-led Events CoSponsorship Board (ECB) for a planned on-campus debate. Titled “Inequality: Should We Care?,” the discussion was set to feature Yaron Brook, Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, and James K. Galbraith, a UT professor and director of the University of Texas Inequality Project. ECB itself is funded wholly by student activity fees, to the tune of $70,000 per year—all of which is spent supporting the programming of various student organizations. The UT Objectivism Society applied for $1,920.64 in funding to support the event, and met with ECB on March 19 to discuss its proposal and make its final pitch for funding.

On March 22, however, ECB emailed UT Objectivism Society president Jonathan Divin, informing him that ECB “is unable to fund UT objectivism Society at this time.” Divin responded, asking if ECB could provide any explanation as to why the group’s request for funding was denied. Troublingly, ECB replied only: “Unfortunately, ECB is unable to disclose any information regarding the deliberation process whether or not an event was funded.” The UT Objectivism Society’s debate would take place as scheduled but only after the group raised $3,000 privately in the absence of funding support from ECB.

…I’m pleased to report that UT took these concerns seriously and got to the bottom of the funding issue, detailing its findings in its April 24 response to us. We now know that, among other matters, ECB’s available funds at that time were low enough that it couldn’t cover the group’s full request for support. Importantly, Vice President for Student Affairs Gage E. Paine’s response concluded:

I regret that the basis for the ECB’s decision was not communicated more effectively to the Society. Since learning about the concerns expressed in your letter, ECB members and University staff have met and discussed the need to provide information to funding applicants after an ECB decision has been made. I hope an improved line of communication between the ECB and funding applicants will prevent a similar misunderstanding in the future.