By Eric Stirgus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga
Georgia Tech has agreed to pay $50,000 as part of a lawsuit settlement filed against the school by a group that claimed it allowed student government leaders to withhold funding from groups with which it disagrees politically.
Students for Life, a Georgia Tech student group opposed to abortion, invited pro-life activist Alveda King, the niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to speak on campus last year, but said student government leaders would not cover the $2,346 for her speaking appearance.
Georgia Tech students pay mandatory student activity fees which its student government association uses to fund all other organizations’ events on campus. Student government meeting records show student leaders at Tech voiced concerns about King’s views on abortion and gay marriage before denying the funding application, said attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group that represented Students for Life.
A lawsuit was filed in April against Georgia Tech leaders, its student government association and the state’s Board of Regents.
The student group agreed to a settlement after Georgia Tech revised its policies in August to allocate funding to student groups in a “viewpoint-neutral decision making criteria,” according to papers included in the settlement agreement.
“The Constitution is clear that public universities can’t discriminate against students for their political or religious beliefs, and we are hopeful that Georgia Tech’s decisive policy changes will set an example for universities around the country to uphold all students’ constitutional rights,” Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said in a statement.
Georgia Tech said in a statement: “The First Amendment guarantees of free expression are an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge. Georgia Tech is pleased with the policies, as they reflect our commitment to upholding these important principles.”