Students for Life Celebrates Queens College Win, Ending Discrimination against Pro-life Students

“Too often, Students for Life groups nationwide face discrimination and denied access because of the biases of school administrators or fellow students, but as this win in our Queens College case shows, we will fight for our students and open doors for them to practice their Constitutional freedoms,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins.

NEW YORK and FREDERICKSBURG, VA – (11-16-17) – Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins announced that a legal settlement this week with Queens College officials means that “discriminatory practices against pro-life students have ended. We are celebrating the change in policy that now allows pro-life students to benefit from their mandatory student fees to support their passion to serve mothers and their preborn children. And we thank Alliance Defending Freedom’s team, including local attorney Joseph Ruta, who fought for the Queens College Students for Life when their rights were violated. As illustrated in this recently released graphic, we are witnessing an epidemic of violations of student free speech rights, but wherever students are denied their rights, Students for Life will defend them.”

As SFLA reported last fall: “Last fall, Queens College Students for Life and other campus groups applied for ‘registered’ status, seeking to join more than 100 student organizations—including pro-abortion clubs—which are allowed to reserve meeting space, invite speakers, and receive funding from mandatory student activity fees. Officials delayed and then rejected Students for Life’s application without explanation but approved the applications of at least two other groups immediately.

“The college gave unlimited power to the Campus Affairs Committee to decide whether a group should be granted official recognition and whether it may receive funding. The lawsuit, Queens College Students for Life v. Members of the City University of New York Board of Trustees, points out that this sweeping authority allows them to deny recognition and funding for any reason, including unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. ADF attorneys explained (at that time) that public universities cannot refuse to approve a student group without justification and must ensure recognition and student activity funding are approved in a viewpoint-neutral manner.”

After the lawsuit was filed, the committee relented, and allowed the SFLA club to form. However, the discriminatory policies remained in place, placing future pro-life students at risk to arbitrary refusal. At the time that Students for Life was denied the opportunity to form a club, the refusal resulted in students being blocked from accessing mandatory student activity fees, more than $1,200 per student over eight semesters.

“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “That’s why it’s so important that public universities like Queens College model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

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