A lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday alleges that Georgia Tech allows the student government to withhold funding from groups with which it disagrees politically.
The Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom says a student group at Tech opposed to abortion invited Alveda King to speak in September. An ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, King is an anti-abortion crusader, a Fox News contributor and the niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
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Students for Life sought $2,346 in funding for her appearance out of student fees but was denied, and subsequent appeals at the campus level for reimbursement have been rebuffed, according to the 46-page complaint.
In a statement, Georgia Tech said, “We are just learning of this litigation and do not comment on pending litigation. Georgia Tech holds freedom of expression as an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge.”
ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton said minutes of student government meetings show student leaders at Tech voiced concerns about King’s views on abortion and gay marriage before denying the funding application.
“The problem is that the student government at Georgia Tech has the discretion to discriminate against some viewpoints and promote others,” said Dalton in a telephone interview. “That is not how the marketplace of ideas is supposed to work at a university.”
Two student leaders of Students for Life ended up using their own money to pay for event advertising and for King’s honorarium, said Dalton. One of the two, past president of Students for Life Brian Cochran, is still owed $2,000, he said.
While the lawsuit seeks reimbursement of the students, Dalton said, “The primary goal is to have equal access to funding from the mandatory student fees on campus that all students pay. The very fact that the student government can consider Alveda King’s religious or political views is the whole problem.”
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