Officials at a California college are being warned to stop punishing the elected president of the student government because he refused to censor the free speech rights of an off-campus organization – or argue their case in federal court.
Sacramento City College campus
Sacramento City College officials erupted in anger when they discovered the student government had approved a request by the pro-life Genocide Awareness Project to have a display at the school’s Constitution Day events.
WND reported that the target of the school officials’ anger is ASG President Steve Macias, a 19-year-old Christian student who was ordered to tell workers with GAP, an affiliate of the Sanctity of Human Life Network, to leave campus. He refused, citing the organization’s First Amendment free speech rights.
The student government had voted unanimously to allow the Genocide Awareness Project to host a display on campus Sept. 16 and 17, after the organization submitted a routine request.
But Macias told WND Sacramento City College Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Poindexter and ASG faculty adviser Lee Weathers-Miguel pulled him out of class and demanded that he tell the pro-life group to leave campus, even though it is open to the public.
“I said, ‘I can’t tell them to leave. They have every right to be here.'”
He said the administrators responded, “Go out there and tell them to move their display somewhere off campus or turn their signs around. Tell them this isn’t OK.”
Macias responded, “I can’t tell them to do any of that. They have every right to be here, and it’s not my place to tell them what to do with their display.”
He said school officials also told him he should have invited a pro-abortion group to the event.
“After I refused to tell the group to take it down, they said, ‘We’re pi–sed off about this. This is unacceptable,'” Macias said. “They said if I had invited people from the other side, this would have been OK. If I would have included Planned Parenthood in this, then it would be perfectly fine. But because I hadn’t, they needed to go.”
The school then allegedly allowed or encouraged a petition drive to remove Macias from office, sparking interest from the Alliance Defense Fund, which has now sent a demand letter to the school.
“According to our information, the ASG and several college officials have engaged in a retaliatory and discriminatory campaign to recall Mr. Macias as ASG president simply because he refused to unlawfully censor an off-campus group who participated in the college’s Constitution Day,” said a letter from the law firm’s litigation staff counsel, David J. Hacker.
“As a result, Mr. Macias is being subject to a procedurally defective recall effort, is the target of … retaliatory resolutions by the ASG Senate, and has been singled out for discriminatory treatment by college officials simply because he is a Christian.
“Although Mr. Macias notified Vice President Poindexter of this untenable situation, these violations have gone uncorrected. Mr. Macias now seeks immediate relief,” the letter said.
Poindexter also confronted Macias about his faith, the letter explains.
“I don’t see anything in the Bible that says you should do what you’re doing,” Poindexter told Macias, according to the letter, adding, “What does your God think about what you’re doing?”
Further, members of the campus community have since been misrepresenting the facts of the case, the letter added.
“The unconstitutional retaliation and discrimination against Mr. Macias must cease immediately,” said the letter. “The ASG’s limited governing authority is now being grossly abused by members who are retaliating and discriminating against Mr. Macias because of his religious and political views, and because he failed to unconstitutionally censor speech on campus.
“Mr. Macias acted appropriately when he refused to remove GAP from campus because of the viewpoint of its message. But instead of garnering the support of college officials, who are charged with upholding the Constitution, Messrs. Poindexter and Weathers-Miguel have also sought to retaliate and discriminate against Mr. Macias because of his religious and political beliefs.”
The actions involve First Amendment retaliation, deprivation of due process and equal protection, multiple violations of the state’s Brown Act and conspiracy, the law firm letter said.
School officials did not return a message from WND asking for comment.
“Respecting people’s First Amendment rights is worthy of praise, not punishment,” said Hacker. “Steve Macias did exactly the right thing in his role as president, and now he is paying the price determined by those who wanted to censor this pro-life group.”
Concerned individuals may e-mail Sacramento City College or call President
Kathryn Jeffery’s office at (916) 558-2100, Vice President Michael Poindexter’s office at (916) 558-2142 or ASG faculty adviser Lee Weathers-Miguel’s office at (916) 558-2382.
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