The religious legal defense group, Alliance Defending Freedom, won a major victory for religious student groups this week. Texas A&M had been refusing to allow university funds to go to support religious student groups–a clear violation of the constitution’s free speech protections. In the wake of a lawsuit filed by ADF, Texas A&M has agreed to revise its policy.
“Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, not a place where funding earmarked for student groups only goes to the ones the university prefers,” said Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “We commend Texas A&M for quickly revising its policy so that religious and political groups can apply for and obtain student funding on equal footing with other student groups. Texas A&M officials have demonstrated genuine concern for the constitutionally protected freedoms of their students. We hope other universities will follow their example.”
In December 2011, Texas Aggie Conservatives submitted a funding request to offset costs for bringing a well-known speaker to campus to discuss poverty, race, and social justice issues in America from a political and religious perspective. The university denied the request in February on grounds that funds “cannot be approved for recognized organizations with a classification of social and political issues.”
Under the revised policy, Texas A&M will no longer bar religious and political groups from obtaining funding from money collected through student fees. These groups will now be able to apply for funding in the same way as non-religious and non-political groups. In addition, the policy outlines specific criteria in evaluating funding applications, as well as an appeal process for groups denied funding.
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