Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins announced the filing of a federal lawsuit, Students for Life at Ball State University v. Hall,regarding events that began in February of this year. BSU Students for Life asked for $300 from the mandatory student activity fees to cover the costs of Pregnant on Campus materials designed for pregnant and parenting students. The program offers students support and assistance as well as spelling out their Title IX rights. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys who filed the case reported that the monies were denied because of the students’ pro-life views while other organizations with viewpoints received support. In their announcement of the case, ADF noted, “Student Activity Fee Committee distributed funding from the same pool to organizations that advocate for viewpoints administrators prefer, including Feminists for Action, Secular Student Alliance, and Spectrum.”
“Ball State University says it pledges to ‘value the intrinsic worth of every member of the community,’ but its student government is playing favorites and stifling free speech,” said Hawkins. “If BSU wants to respect every member of its community, it will give Students for Life, along with other groups, equal footing. We support the free speech rights of all students, encourage the open exchange of ideas, and ask that the rights of pro-life students be respected as their peers’ rights are.”
At Ball State, the university gave the authority for deciding who could receive funds to the Student Activity Fee Committee, which has broad, decision-making authority in choosing which clubs would be permitted or funded. In turning down BSU Students for Life request, the student government said they could not support “(a)ny Organization which engages in activities, advocacy, or speech in order to advance a particular political interest, religion, religious faith or ideology.” And yet other organizations with political and ideological views did receive support.
“Public universities are supposed to provide a marketplace of ideas, but that market can’t function properly if the heavy hand of government promotes some views over others,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton. “While Ball State University pledges to ‘respect and learn from differences in people, ideas, and opinions,’ it has failed to respect or listen to Students for Life. The college’s unconstitutional actions treat these pro-life students as second-class, denying full participation in campus life while mandating every pro-life student pay more than $1,000 in student fees per year that help fund opposing viewpoints.”
Recently, Hawkins detailed the 9 most common violations of student free speech, in a piece for the Wall Street JournalTo read the entire article, with examples of each type of violation, click here. You can also see a slideshow of common violations here.