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Regents Fight Back Over Student Fee Lawsuit

The Board of Regents is fighting back in the lawsuit filed against it over collection of student fees. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

The lawsuit asks a federal court to declare the Regents acted illegally last month in saying if the Arizona Students Association wants its $2-a-semester fee it has to get students specifically to opt in. Until that decision the fee was added to tuition, and students who objected had to file a written request for a refund. The lawsuit claims the board was retaliating against the association for its financial support last year of Proposition 204. That sought to impose a permanent 1-cent hike in state sales taxes, a measure opposed by Governor Jan Brewer and most Republican lawmakers.

But regents' attorney Joe Kanefield said in new court filings that why the board did it is legally irrelevant, as it is under no obligation to collect the fee at all. Stephen Montana who is representing the students said Kanefield is right - and wrong. "The complaint is very careful in not saying the Board of Regents had to do this," Montoya said. "We've always said it didn't have to do it. But once it did, it couldn't take away the privilege in a way that was retaliatory or discriminatory, which is a very different thing."

It will be up to federal magistrate David Duncan to decide if the regents acted legally. No date has been set for a hearing.