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Michigan professor sued for forcing students to pay radical group

Written by on May 25, 2023

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A former marketing professor at Michigan State University has been sued for forcing hundreds of her students to each donate $99 to a radical leftwing organization that she belongs to.

MSU students Nathan Barbieri and Nolan Radomski filed suit last week against former professor Amy Wisner in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division.

The students also named Thomas Jeitschko, interim provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at MSU and Judith Whipple, interim dean of the MSU Broad College of Business as defendants.

“Using her authority under University policies to select ‘course materials,’ Defendant Wisner compelled each of her six hundred students to pay a $99 membership fee to join an outside organization called ‘The Rebellion Community,’” read the complaint.

“Defendant Wisner controlled The Rebellion Community and used the membership fees to finance her own political advocacy and to support external groups — including Planned Parenthood — that engage in political speech that is antithetical to the Plaintiffs’ deeply held beliefs.”

According to the complaint, Wisner set up an online fundraiser last August aimed at paying for a trip across the United States to help organize leftwing activism at the local level.

During the fall 2022 semester, Wisner required students of her MKT 250 course to pay $99 for a subscription to her website “The Rebellion Community,” which would fund her activism efforts.

Barbieri and Radomski enrolled in the MKT 250 class in the spring semester of this year, as they both needed to take the course to complete their respective college degrees.

The two students took issue with the requirements of the course, in part because Wisner could have put the materials on a free website and because they objected to many of her beliefs.

Barbieri and Radomski are being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal nonprofit specializing in religious freedom cases that has successfully argued cases before the United States Supreme Court.

ADF Legal Counsel Logan Spena said in a statement released Monday that “professors can’t force students to finance and support political advocacy groups that express messages they disagree with.”

“Nathan and Nolan simply want to get a business degree without being compelled to pay membership fees that will be donated to Planned Parenthood or support speech that directly contradicts their religious beliefs,” stated Spena.

“Michigan State officials have violated the First Amendment and federal civil rights laws by authorizing professors to force students to support speech antithetical to their deepest values and faith.”

MSU spokesman Dan Olsen told Mlive.com that the University dismissed Wisner and gave refunds to students through their Broad College of Business funds, totaling around $60,000.

For her part, Wisner posted comments on social media in April claiming that “MSU fired me because they did not want me and my guest lecturers to teach diversity, equity, and inclusion to students in the core business communication class.”

“The battle over this issue started in October 2022 and ended about a month ago when they fired me for insubordination,” she added, as quoted by Mlive.com.

Wisner also encouraged people to visit her website “if you are worried about the hateful rhetoric and divisiveness in America, state of our education system, daily threat of gun violence, overt racism, sexism, antisemitism, xenophobia, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of bullying.”

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

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