Lawsuit claims Ball State withheld funds from pro-life group

Students at Ball State University are taking the school to court after officials allegedly denied funding to an organization because of its pro-life views. 

In a statement released Wednesday, the non-profit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced that it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the student group that asked the school for $300 from mandatory student activity fees to host a February event for pregnant and parenting students on campus.

ADF believes that the funds were denied because of the pro-life views of the organization, Students for Life, asserting that other groups with “ideological views that university officials favor” received funding.

“Officials denied Students for Life’s request because the organization advocates for pro-life views,” ADF claims, noting that the Student Activity Fee Committee “distributed funding from the same pool to organizations that advocate for viewpoints administrators prefer, including Feminists for Action, Secular Student Alliance, and Spectrum.”

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While the school says it does not give financial support to groups that are “political” or “religious” in nature, Students for Life of America (SFLA) President Kristan Hawkins challenged the school’s defense in a separate press release.

“Ball State University says it pledges to ‘value the intrinsic worth of every member of the community,’ but its student government is playing favorites and stifling free speech,” Hawkins said. 

“If BSU wants to respect every member of its community, it will give Students for Life, along with other groups, equal footing,” she continued. “We support the free speech rights of all students, encourage the open exchange of ideas, and ask that the rights of pro-life students be respected as their peers’ rights are.” 

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ADF agrees, noting that as a public university, Ball State is required to give equal treatment to clubs.

“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,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton. 

“While Ball State University pledges to ‘respect and learn from differences in people, ideas, and opinions,’ it has failed to respect or listen to Students for Life,” Dalton added. “The college’s unconstitutional actions treat these pro-life students as second-class, denying full participation in campus life while mandating every pro-life student pay more than $1,000 in student fees per year that help fund opposing viewpoints.”

Campus Reform reached out to Ball State University for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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