The famed Alliance Defending Freedom is well-known for notifying colleges and universities of constitutional violations in their policies and practices, from free-speech-violating “free speech zones” to demands that student groups toe the progressive-left political line.
Now, wonder of wonders, a few schools are actually beginning to take the initiative and correct the constitutional violations once they have a clear view of what’s wrong.
That’s according to the ADF itself.
For example, the religious and civil rights organization confirmed that officials at Lone Star College in Texas have agreed to change policies to settle a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a student group ousted for “its conservative views.”
The changes will assure that there will be no further discrimination against student groups because of their viewpoint.
The change of heart – and policy – prompted the voluntary dismissal of the legal case.
ADF reported it was the CyFair campus chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas and its president who raised objections when Lone Star College de-recognized the group.
“Public colleges and universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas. These policy changes will ensure that the marketplace will function properly at Lone Star College, where previously only administrator-approved ideas were allowed,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “We commend Lone Star officials for making sure that its policies respect the constitutionally protected freedoms that students have under the First Amendment.”
There were several issues, including that the policy gave officials unrestricted authority to recognize and de-recognize student organizations based on whether those officials approved of the viewpoints of the groups.
Then there was the practice of requiring all students to pay student activity fees to fund student organization activities but only allowing student groups that college officials preferred to draw from those funds, ADF said.
The the University of North Carolina-Pembroke moved even more quickly.
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom simply sent a letter advising that its policies impacted free speech and more, and the school began work to change them.
The school’s policies had limited speech activities to small zones within the public campus community, required prior approval for literature distribution, and held that university administrators could ban content they deemed “offensive.”
“Free speech without fear of punishment is a core constitutionally protected freedom that our nation’s public universities should respect,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton. “We commend YAL students for standing up for the free marketplace of ideas on their campus. We also commend UNCP for quickly revising its policies to ensure that the next generation of students can speak freely and peacefully, regardless of their viewpoint, without fear of penalties.”
One of the disputes was over a recruitment effort by Young Americans for Liberty, whose members held an event where students could write free speech messages on a beach ball, an activity that was somehow deemed to violate school rules.
After the ADF sent a letter advising the school of its unconstitutional restrictions, it responded with plans to make changes.
“It’s encouraging to see students stand up for the Constitution on their campuses,” said YAL President Cliff Maloney, Jr. “I commend UNCP for working with YAL and ADF to revise their unconstitutional campus speech codes and serve as a model for others.”