On Tuesday, the California State University–San Marcos agreed to revise its funding policy and pay $240,000 in attorney fees. The development, reported by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), brings an end to a lawsuit filed against the university in 2017.
ADF filed the lawsuit on behalf of the university chapter of Students for Life of America. In 2017, a select group of student organizations received nearly $300,000 in mandatory student fees to promote viewpoints favored by the university. That same year, the Students for Life chapter was denied $500 the group applied for to host a pro-life speaker.
In 2019, a federal judge ruled in favor of the pro-life students, condemning the “back room deliberations” involved in allocating funds paid by all students. The university’s payment of $240,000 and revision of its funding policy also sets policy for the California State University System. ADF reports, “With almost half a million students and 23 campuses, the California State University is the largest four-year university system in the United States. As a result of this case and the post-judgement settlement, the Chancellor’s directive orders all 23 campuses to review and revise their policies to comply with the Constitution’s viewpoint-neutrality requirement.”
“Public universities should encourage all students to participate in the free exchange of ideas, not create elaborate and secretive funding schemes to fund their favorite groups while excluding opposing views from equal access,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton. “The university system’s policy changes don’t simply benefit our clients but also benefit any student with a minority viewpoint and every citizen who cares about dialogue and intellectual freedom within our public colleges and university communities.”
“Public universities have no right to use their power, including mandatory student fees, to restrict or silence speech they don’t like,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “Because of the initiative and courage of student leaders at Cal State–San Marcos, pro-life students at public universities across California will benefit from the administration’s policy reversal. Pro-life students should have every opportunity available to them that pro-abortion students have, and anything less is a failure on the part of the university to abide by the First Amendment.”
Pro-life student groups at other universities have also won recent legal victories, ensuring that pro-life students have equal opportunity to host events and promote their ideas on campus.
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