UC Berkeley settles anti-conservative discrimination lawsuit
- UC Berkeley insists that "no policies were changed" as a result of its recent settlement agreement with a conservative student group that was denied official recognition for being "too similar" to an existing club.
- The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the students, emphatically disagrees, pointing out that the school was forced to add several paragraphs to the policy affirming that it will not judge groups based on "uniqueness."
The University of California, Berkeley insists that the policy revisions it was forced to make to settle a lawsuit from conservative students do not amount to a “substantive change.”
According to a press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented the group, UC Berkeley denied recognition for a Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter last year because it deemed YAL’s mission “too similar to Cal Libertarians.”
As a result, the YAL group was prevented from reserving meeting space, hosting speakers, or accessing funds derived from student fees.
According to ADF, UC Berkeley told YAL last year that it was “too similar” to Cal Libertarians despite substantial similarities in mission statements of progressive campus organizations, including “Queer Alliance & Resource Center” and the “Queer Student Union.”
In a December press release, ADF claimed that UC Berkeley’s decision to deny recognition “explicitly discriminated against YAL on the basis of its pro-liberty views.”
Under the terms of the settlement, UC Berkeley has agreed to revise its “Registered Student Organization” policy and pay a total of $8,250 to YAL and ADF.
The now-settled lawsuit alleged that the university had deliberately denied the YAL students their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and demanded that the school amend its recognition policy to guarantee “neutral access” to group registration and funding.
“The LEAD Center will not deny or delay [registered student organization] status to applying organizations on the basis of their statements of purpose or uniqueness, mission statement, or other viewpoint expressed in its application, so long as the organization completes the required steps of the application process,” the school’s amended policy reads in pertinent part.
UC Berkeley, however, maintains that the revisions are essentially meaningless.
“The University is satisfied with the outcome of a settlement that did not require a substantive change to any of the relevant campus processes,” a UC Berkeley spokesperson told Campus Reform. “No policies were changed.”
“Some news reports on this issue have been incorrect,” the spokesperson added. “To clarify, our policies and practices for registered student organizations have not changed under the settlement.”
ADF emphatically disagreed with the university’s assessment, even providing Campus Reform with a color version of the settlement agreement showing the new policy wording in red.
“It’s absurd that Berkeley continues to refuse to accept responsibility for its discriminatory and unconstitutional actions,” Caleb Dalton, ADF legal counsel told Campus Reform.
“It is patently false for it to deny that this settlement resulted in a policy change. The changes have already been implemented on the Berkeley Lead Center website,” Dalton added. “Berkeley should thank these students for standing up for the rights of all instead of attempting to excuse and deny verifiable facts.”
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