Michigan State University (MSU) students are suing a professor who allegedly forced them and other students to pay $99 each to her personal political advocacy organization. An estimated $60,000 was raised for The Rebellion Community, which funds Planned Parenthood and other liberal causes. MSU has offered to repay the money but Amy Wisner, professor of marketing at the MSU College of Business (who has reportedly been let go by the university) has not been required to return any of the money. The students allege that Wisner linked to a Facebook page associated with “The Rebellion Community” and noted “The Rebellion community is a safe place to coordinate our efforts to burn everything to the f***ing ground.” (One has to appreciate the fact that, even in a rebellion to “burn everything to ground,” Wisner offered a safe space for the self-described arsonists).
Wisner may have succeeded in teaching a lasting lesson on marketing in generating tens of thousands of dollars from her own students.
The complaint alleges that, while Wisner told the students that she would not benefit from the mandatory contributions, she did indeed personally benefit. Furthermore, they allege that she may have used some of the money to buy an RV. The complaint below states:
“On August 16, 2022, Defendant Wisner set up a “GoFundMe” campaign to raise money for ‘an RV roadtrip [sic] around the United States to cocreate communities of rebels committed to doing the work’ and ‘igniting action at the local level.'”
The requirement clearly violated the free speech rights of the students who opposed the group’s work or did not want to be forced to support a group as a condition for taking a MSU class.
Notably, the lawsuit also names Thomas Jeitschko, interim provost and head of academic affairs at the university. The Complaint on page 4 states that “Jeitschko personally approved the policy on the donation of proceeds received from assigned course materials at issue in this lawsuit.”
Judith Whipple, interim dean at the business school, is also named in the lawsuit in her official capacity.
The university has stated that Wisner is no longer an adjunct professor with the school. Yet, there is no apparent action from the university against those who supervised Wisner and allowed her to use a class allegedly for partisan, self-dealing purposes. The required donations shows a sense of license to convert university courses into direct advocacy workshops. Where do you think that sense of impunity comes from?
The suggestion is that Wisner appeared and acted spontaneously and unilaterally. That is obviously not the case. Someone hired this person, supervised this professor, and signed off on this class.