Christian Student Groups In America Require A Permit To Speak To Other Students?By Vinay Patel, UniversityHerald Reporter
Earlier this month, reports indicating the North Carolina State University separated a student Christian group from the rest of the student population surfaced online. This indicated that the university selectively imposes policies that demand permit for communication on campus.
Citing North Carolina State University's policy that restricts any sort of student speech and communication anywhere on campus, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys that represents one of the university's Christian student group has filed a federal lawsuit against school officials Tuesday, May 31.
The lawsuit claims the university is extremely selective when it comes to enforcing the policy. Officials told members of the Grace Christian Life, a registered student's organization that they required a permit in order to communicate with rest of the students in the student union, Alliance Defending Freedom reported.
ADF attorney Tyson Langhofer slammed the idea of public universities' students requiring a permit to even exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms. Langhofer noted that the only permit required to be involved in free speech is the First Amendment.
In September, last year, the group was instructed not to engage in a speech with other students or even approach them to talk about the church of Jesus without permit. They were asked to stay put at their assigned table in the Talley Student Union building while reps of other student organizations and clubs collected signature, talked about their groups and distributed pamphlets.
Grace Christian Life collaborated with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a firm that specializes in religious liberty cases, Catholic Online reported.
Despite the group obtaining a permit to put up a table in the student union a few months ago, and been told that the they could communicate with rest of the students from behind the table or anywhere in the room when the permit was issued, but when they actually left the table on the permitted date, a member of the Student Involvement Office divulged they must only stay behind their table.
The lawsuit points out that the university has not imposed similar restrictions on any other student or group members. In fact, according to Grace Christian Life members, several other groups freely interacted with other students and handed out literature without a permit and also outside the area reserved by their table permit - sometimes this happened in the presence of same officials that restricted Grace Christian Life from similar activities.
Hacker noted that the courts have clearly indicated that a public university can't demand permits this way and for this type of speech. Besides, a public university can't impose such discriminatory rules.
"Unconstitutional censorship is bad enough," he added, but when coupled with university officials' ability to choose when and where to mute the students, the offence is worse. ADF is pleading the court to nullify the university's policy, and allow Grace Christian Life members to engage in the speech that the First Amendment confirms they can.