The publically funded Queen’s College in New York City was forced to pay thousands of dollars to settle a discrimination lawsuit after persecuting pro-life groups on its campus, repeatedly.
Queens College is being forced to pay $5,000 to cover the legal fees to ‘Students for Life’ over the accusations that the taxpayer-funded school had stifled their free speech rights and imposed a political test on their application to receive student activity funding, as a campus organization.
Students for Life President, Kristan Hawkins, had hailed the settlement as a victory for the freedom of association and freedom of speech. The settlement would waive the pro-life group’s fees for the fall semester and force the school to revisit its own registration process.
“Discriminatory practices against pro-life students have ended” at Queens College, she had said in a statement. “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.”
Students for Life is one of the largest pro-life groups in the country with approximately 1,100 chapters in high schools and universities. When Queens College student Norvilia Etienne attempted to establish a new chapter at the school, she came under aggressive attack by campus officials, as she tried to organize the group.
Despite the fact the university funds multiple groups had supported abortion, Etienne’s application was initially rejected without any explanation offered to her.
Students for Life brought the case with the assistance from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal nonprofit committed to preserving religious liberty and the freedom of speech.
Casey Mattox, the director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, hopes that the settlement will help reverse trends in speech policing on campus. He had also called the group’s case to be a “no brainer” because the Queens College is a public university operating through the taxpayer funded City University of New York (CUNY) system. Therefore, rejecting the pro-life group’s application amounted to government interference in free speech.
“College campuses are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but all too often they’re more like a Venezuelan grocery of ideas with limited choice and government interference making speech more expensive than free,” Mattox said. “We hope that today’s settlement makes Queens College more hospitable to minority views.”
Queens College continues to deny that the administrators did not discriminate against any of the groups and had settled the case without admitting their fault. The campus did grant Students for Life recognition on January 27, 2017, just two days after Etienne had filed suit.
The pro-life group had tallied 35 serious incidents of vandalism and disruption nationally, between 2012 and 2017. The Queens College settlement came one week after a Fresno State University professor had agreed to pay the members of the group $1,000, as well as all the legal fees, after he had ordered his students to erase the group’s chalking displays across campus.