Kennesaw State University has restricted pro-life speech on its campus for a long time and recently limited it to just 0.08 percent of the 405-acre campus.
But that's changing as a result of a lawsuit by the Alliance Defending Freedom filed against KSU's limits on the First Amendment.
The university announced Thursday it is changing its policy.
"Among the terms of the settlement that ADF attorneys negotiated with KSU, the school will eliminate its speech zone, students will be free to speak freely in all outdoor areas of campus, and the university will pay $20,100 to ADF and Ratio Christi, the student organization that sponsored the pro-life display, to cover legal expenses incurred in defense of the group's constitutionally protected freedoms," ADF said.
"Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, where all ideas are welcome, not just those that university officials consider acceptable," said Travis Barham, a senior counsel for ADF.
"Kennesaw State has done the right thing in ending the ability of officials to quarantine any student speech they deemed 'controversial' to a tiny, difficult-to-access part of campus. We hope that this settlement will prompt other public universities to eliminate similar unconstitutional policies."
He said the First Amendment "prohibits universities from restricting where students can speak, whether that restriction is based on what students intend to say or simply based on sparing the feelings of others who may disagree."
A major part of the problem was that previously there were no guidelines for officials to follow.
That gave them "unrestricted discretion to grant, deny, or modify a student organization's reservation request even for unconstitutional reasons," ADF said. "Thus, officials relegated any activities they deemed 'controversial' to the small, less-accessible speech zone."
The settlement eliminates the speech zone.
"In addition, officials no longer have free reign to charge security fees in any amount," ADF reported.
On at least one occasion, university officials assigned Ratio Christi to the speech zone because they determined that its message was "controversial," even though no one was using the location the group originally requested.
School officials also made the group's speech conditional on removing certain pro-life messages from its display.
"The First Amendment exists precisely to protect speech that government officials think is controversial," said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. "We commend KSU for making the changes necessary to ensure that the First Amendment freedoms of its students are respected. Today's students will be tomorrow's leaders and voters, so it's critical that universities live by example in demonstrating the importance of those freedoms instead of communicating to an entire generation that the Constitution doesn't matter."
The lawsuit was closed administratively, based on the pending settlement, officials said.