Colorado State University settles free speech lawsuit with Students for Life

Earlier this year, Live Action News reported on a free speech lawsuit filed by the Colorado State University campus chapter of Students for Life of America. The university had denied diversity grant funding to the SFLA group when they applied to bring in pro-life speaker Josh Brahm, due to Brahm not being “entirely unbiased.” Students for Life was told that their funding request would not be granted, as some people “won’t necessarily feel affirmed in attending the event.”

According to Alliance Defending Freedom, the university violated the rights of students, specifically those who are part of Students for Life, by forcing them to pay into the grant funding — which supports viewpoints they oppose — without allowing for them to respond in kind. “University officials shouldn’t use mandatory student fees to favor some views while shutting out others,” said ADF senior counsel Tyson Langhofer.

On Tuesday, the Denver Post reported that the lawsuit has been settled, with the university agreeing to adjust its policies and correct its unjust funding decision against Students for Life. In a news release, Alliance Defending Freedom explained that Colorado State University “has agreed to drop unconstitutional policies that enabled university officials to deny a student organization’s funding request strictly because of the group’s pro-life views,” as well as “overhaul its policies to ensure that all student groups will have equal access to mandatory student activity fees charged to all students.”

Emily Faulkner, a 2017 CSU graduate, president of CSU Students for Life, and a plaintiff in the case, took to Facebook to share that she thought the right outcome had been reached, “VERY proud that I was able to change a bad policy at my alma mater. #ramsforfreespeech.”

Langhofer commended the university for changing course, stating that all students have the right to not be discriminated against because of their particular viewpoint. A statement from the university acknowledged that a settlement has been reached and that the funding decision regarding Students for Life has been “corrected.” The university claims it was and continues to be “fully committed” to free expression of diverse viewpoints for all students.

Cases such as this, which are sadly not isolated instances, represent clear discrimination against pro-lifers. On many college campuses, diversity is promoted — but suddenly forgotten when that diversity manifests in the form of students taking a stand for life. Students for Life and Alliance Defending Freedom deserve credit for standing up not only for life, but also for viewpoint diversity, and as Langhofer said, the university should be commended for correcting a very poor decision in this case.

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