CU Gives Ward Churchill Tenure, but Pro-Life Student Group TOO CONTROVERSIAL?
School Threatened with Suit for Hampering Pro-Life Group's Abortion Exhibit
By Jim Brown
April 21, 2005
(AgapePress) - The University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder is being accused of discriminating against and censoring the free speech of Justice For All, a pro-life student group on the Colorado campus.
On March 14, the registered student organization Justice For All (JFA) submitted a request to CU-Boulder officials, requesting the use of campus space to set up an outdoor pro-life exhibit that demonstrates some of the more gruesome and less well-known aspects of abortion. University officials were uncooperative, however; first they denied the student group's preferred event date, and then later, the group's preferred location.
The school officials called the display "controversial and potentially disruptive" and asked JFA to move it to a less-trafficked location on campus. But according to the student group, the CU-Boulder officials relegated the exhibit to a remote campus location -- one that is not only not large enough for the exhibit but also receives far less pedestrian traffic than the group's originally requested site.
Members of JFA consulted the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a legal organization that specializes in defending religious liberty through education, funding, strategy, and -- if necessary -- litigation. ADF sent a letter to the university explaining the student group's constitutional rights; but after CU responded with a rebuff, the legal alliance threatened to sue on behalf of the campus pro-life organization.
Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney with ADF, believes the school has violated the students' free-speech rights. "The bottom line is, government officials cannot restrict speech based on its controversial nature," he says.
Still, as Tedesco noted in his April 7 letter to CU-Boulder's legal representatives, "The university is discriminating against JFA because its event has been deemed 'controversial' and because of possible university community reaction to the exhibit." This discriminatory treatment, he contends, is a violation of the Constitution of the United States.
The ADF lawyer says CU-Boulder needs to reverse its unconstitutional actions and "treat everybody the same. Don't make decisions based on what they think will be a potentially disruptive exhibit on their campus." Instead, he suggests that CU should, "Trust the students will conduct themselves accordingly, which the JFA students always have; and if there is any kind of problem on campus, they have disruption policies in place [in order to] take care of any kind of problem."
Tedesco says CU is employing a terrible and unfair standard by choosing to discriminate against the pro-life students, while at the same time tolerating the speech of radical, anti-American Professor Ward Churchill. It is ironic, the attorney asserts, that the school that employs Churchill would place unnecessary barriers in the way of others' free speech.