Georgia Tech Changes Policy That Denied Funding for Events Based on Speakers’ Views

Georgia Tech Changes Policy That Denied Funding for Events Based on Speakers’ Views
Eli Attie (L) and Dr. Alveda King at the 'Politics and Dirty Tricks' panel during Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Calif., on July 30, 2017. (Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon)
Janita Kan

Georgia Institute of Technology has agreed to change its policy regarding funding for student events after a student group sued the school for its decision to withhold funding for events that it disagrees politically with.

The Students for Life chapter at the university filed a lawsuit in April after the university’s student government body denied funding for a speaker event featuring Dr. Alveda King, the niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), lawyers representing the pro-life group.

The lawyers said students pay mandatory student activity fees which its student government association uses to fund student group events on campus. They said that when Students for Life requested funding for the event with King, the student government questioned the group about the content and viewpoints that King may present.

The student government told the group that their request had to be denied because King has been involved in religious ministries and her life was “inherently religious,” which would make it difficult to separate from an event about civil rights and abortion, ADF said.

The ADF lawyers said in an update on Thursday that the university has now agreed to pay $50,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees, as well as revise its policies to ensure that funding decisions are made using “viewpoint-neutral decisionmaking criteria,” as part of a settlement agreement.

“Public universities are supposed to welcome diverse viewpoints and can’t treat some student groups worse than others simply because they disagree with what the students have to say,” ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton said in a statement.

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said in a statement that they are hopeful that Georgia Tech’s decision to change its policy will set an example for other universities in the country to “uphold all students’ constitutional rights.”

“Courageous student leaders across the nation face real opposition from their schools because they choose to stand up for the defenseless and peacefully educate their fellow students about protecting the preborn,” Hawkins said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech said in a statement to The Epoch Times that: “The First Amendment guarantees of free expression are an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge. Georgia Tech is pleased with the policies, as they reflect our commitment to upholding these important principles.”