By Mark Allphin
The debate over the visit of filmmaker Michael Moore to Utah Valley State College has moved from the campus to the courtroom.
Earlier this week, UVSC student Dan Garcia and Orem resident Kay Anderson filed a lawsuit in the 4th District Court against the college”s student organization and the student council adviser, Phil Clegg.
Anderson, who a month ago offered UVSC $25,000 if they would cancel Moore”s visit, said the suit asks the court to void the school”s contract with Moore until UVSC student body and student government (ASUVSC) can vote on the contract.
Most of Anderson”s claims point to a provision in the student government constitution that refers to expenses and liability in excess of $50,000.
“It”s funny that in the past weeks they”ve talked about the rights of this country”s constitution, and then they go and break their own constitution,” Anderson said.
The UVSC student government constitution states that the student council can spend over $50,000 on a single expense if it was published in the school newspaper and posted throughout campus at least five days before it is accepted. The student government also would need to hold an open forum to discuss the proposal and it needs to be approved by a majority vote of ASUVSC.
The lawsuit also alleges that Clegg acted outside his authority by signing a contract that exceeded the spending limit prescribed by the student constitution.
Anderson said another issue surrounding the lawsuit has to do with misrepresentations he felt UVSC made regarding the cost of the visit. He referred to the $40,000 UVSC initially reported as being the expense for Moore”s visit and then the most recent information that showed the total expense surpassing $63,000.
“They think that they can dice and slice the expenses from the contract as a matter of justification for their being over budget,” Anderson said. “They gave an oath to abide by the constitution and they didn”t abide by it, they should be responsible.”
But Derek Hall, spokesperson for UVSC, said the college followed every provision they were required to follow.
“We are treating this suit very seriously,” Hall said. “After reviewing the case, we are very confident in our position.”
Although the suit asks the court to order Clegg to pay any losses incurred by the ASUVSC, which is estimated at $25,000, Anderson said more than money, he wants the voice of the public to be heard.
“Why don”t they try to work with Moore”s people to possibly postpone his visit until the proper provisions are taken,” Anderson said. “I am confident the students would be happier and they would vote against it and Moore wouldn”t come.”
Moore spent Tuesday speaking at different engagements in Portland and in Seattle. Hall said the possibility of contacting Moore to reschedule is simply “not an option.”
Regardless of the suit, Moore is still scheduled to be at Utah Valley State College today where he is expected to address a sold-out McKay Events Center.