The Arizona Students' Association filed suit this week in federal court over a decision by the Board of Regents on how it collects its fees. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.
The process which has been in place since approved by students in the 1990's tacks a $2.oo-a-semester fee onto every bill to fund the association. That fee, which is refundable if students request the money back, raises more than $580,000 a year for lobbying and advocacy. But earlier this month the regents voted to require an opt-in-process.
Brianna Pantilione, the association's treasurer, claims the move is political. She says, "suddenly, we contributed to Proposition 204. And suddenly, you know, there's a problem. And this is why we are thinking it's retaliation because we've had this precedent where there was no problem. And then, we go and contribute to something that the Board of Regents didn't appreciate that we contributed to."
Proposition 204 would have created a permanent one-cent hike in state sales taxes, with most of the funds earmarked for education, including some for universities and scholarships. It was opposed by Governor Jan Brewer who appointed most of the voting members of the board, and ultimately went down to defeat.
The lawsuit claims the regents violated the association's First Amendment rights and wants the court to void the policy change. Regents spokeswoman Sarah Harper said the board has not been formally served and has no comment.