Lawsuit: Queens treats pro-lifers like 'second-class citizens'

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Queens College on behalf of Students for Life, a pro-life student group that was denied recognition without explanation.

According to ADF’s news release, college officials delayed and then denied Students for Life’s request to acquire “registered” status as a student organization on campus, even though the school already recognizes pro-abortion student groups.

“Last fall, Queens College Students for Life and other campus groups applied for ‘registered’ status, seeking to join more than 100 student organizations—including pro-abortion clubs—which are allowed to reserve meeting space, invite speakers, and receive funding from mandatory student activity fees,” ADF asserts. “Officials delayed and then rejected Students for Life’s application without explanation but approved the applications of at least two other groups immediately.”

[RELATED: Pro-life group sues CSU for denying funds based on content]

“Public universities are supposed to provide a marketplace of ideas, but that market can’t function properly if the heavy hand of government promotes some views over others,” argued ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Yet that is precisely what Queens College has done in excluding Students for Life from campus. The college’s unconstitutional actions treat these pro-life students as second-class, denying them meeting space, funding, and other benefits necessary to form a club and fully participate on campus.”

The college’s Campus Affairs Committee has responsibility for deciding whether student groups receive official recognition and funding, but the Committee gave SFL no reason as to why the chapter was denied official status, and ADF feels that the Committee may have made the decision based on viewpoint discrimination, explaining that public universities “cannot refuse to approve a student group without justification and must ensure recognition and student activity funding are approved in a viewpoint-neutral manner.”

[RELATED: Purdue staff member calls pro-life students ‘vile, racist idiots’]

Spokesperson for Queens College told Campus Reform that it was not aware of ADF’s lawsuit, but dismissed the idea that its Campus Affairs Committee would engage in the type of viewpoint discrimination that the suit alleges.

“Neither Queens College or The City University of New York has received notice of litigation relating to this matter,” the school stated. “There are over 90 diverse student clubs at Queens College and a process for review and consideration of new student organizations by the College's Student Association. Queens College has a consistent history of respecting varied viewpoints.”

Mattox, though, explained that the complaint was only filed yesterday and will be served to the school in the near future, saying ADF believes the college engaged in “egregiously unconstitutional” actions.

“Queens College calls itself a place of diversity, but they have rejected an expressly pro-life group,” Mattox told Campus Reform, pointing out that only an approved student group can bring a speaker on campus, among other privileges currently denied to SFL. “The only permit a group needs to speak freely on campus is the U.S. Constitution.”

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Queens College has informed Campus Reform that the Office of Student Affairs "has reviewed and approved a student application for a proposed club, 'Queens College Students for Life,' that had been previously rejected by a student committee."

The statement also asserted that "Queens College welcomes the participation of all students in diverse campus activities," adding that "today's decision is consistent with the College's commitment to an open and inclusive environment."

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