The California State University system and California State University, San Marcos have agreed to pay $240,000 in a out-of-court settlement with a student who sued the university in 2017 after he was denied student funding to host an anti-abortion speaker on campus.
The 2017 lawsuit challenged the school’s Student Activity Fee Policy, claiming that it lacked “objective criteria, factors, or standards” necessary for a university to fund student groups in a viewpoint-neutral manner.
“The policy affords unbridled discretion to favor certain viewpoints by creating student-run ‘centers’ like the Gender Equity Center and the LGBTQA Pride Center, funding them through Student Activity Fees, and creating different rules governing their use of student fees inapplicable to other student groups,” the complaint argued.
According to the complaint, the university spent almost $300,000 on pro-choice and LGBTQ events in the 2016-2017 academic year, but denied Nathan Apodaca and his group, Students for Life, the $500 they requested to host pro-life speaker and University of North Carolina-Wilmington Professor Mike Adams.
Apodaca was represented by the Alliance in Defense of Freedom, a conservative legal organization known for defending a cakeshop owner’s right to deny service to a gay couple in the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, university officials at CSU San Marcos have agreed to change their policies to prevent viewpoint discrimination in the future. The settlement will also affect other universities in the state, requiring them distribute all student activity funds in a viewpoint neutral manner.
In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Caleb Dalton said the new policy would benefit all students.
“The university system’s policy changes don’t simply benefit our clients but also benefit any student with a minority viewpoint and every citizen who cares about dialogue and intellectual freedom within our public colleges and university communities,” Dalton told The San Diego Union-Tribune.