Michigan State University could risk losing $500,000 if it does not stop offering courses that allegedly promote unionization.
A state Senate panel approved a measure Thursday banning courses at public universities that promote or discourage organizing efforts. It’s a reaction to MSU’s recent decision to take over some programs from the National Labor College.
Republicans say those courses violate the proposed rule.
“I believe in academic freedom, and you’re going to have difficult subjects that you’re going to cover at any university,” said state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who chairs the panel that directs higher education funding in the House.
“But this is a case where I think we’re almost encouraging labor disputes, and I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
The only Democrat that sits on the Senate panel that approved the penalty says it’s unusual for lawmakers to scrutinize university programs this intensely.
“Why just this program?” asked state Sen. Morris Hood III, D-Detroit. “And I would guess to believe that this is a hot topic item and it ruffles a lot of feathers.”
An MSU official says the university’s curriculum is balanced. He says it also offers classes that educate businesses on labor issues.
Pscholka says lawmakers will probably decide whether to move forward with the $500,000 penalty when they return from a three-week break in April.