A college pro-life club just north of San Diego filed a lawsuit against its university last week for failing to equitably distribute mandatory student fees, consequently violating the club’s right to free speech and equality under the law. According to the lawsuit, Cal-State San Marcos officials refused to approve a Students for Life Club request for speaker travel expenses ($500), while it granted nearly $300,000 a year to LGBT campus organizations that promote abortion, homosexuality, and transgenderism.
“California State University–San Marcos has spared no expense to fund the advocacy of its preferred student advocacy groups, but denies funding for speakers from Students for Life and similar student groups,” said Tyson Langhofer, the Alliance Defending Freedom attorney handling the lawsuit. “Universities should encourage all students to participate in the free exchange of ideas, not concoct elaborate funding schemes to award their favored few with first-class status while denying even economy class to opposing views.”
Langhofer claims university officials violated Student for Life President Nathan Apodaca’s First Amendment rights by forcing him to promote and support, with mandatory student fees, a message he disagrees with. The only way for the university to avoid this, is to allocate student fees in a “viewpoint-neutral manner,” something Langhofer says is not happening.
Langhofer also believes Apodaca’s Fourteenth Amendment right to the “equal protection of the laws” has been violated because the university, a government agent, is treating Apodaca and his pro-life club differently than other student organizations with “no rational basis.”
This past school year, Cal-State San Marcos collected $1.3 million in student fees, which were in turn given to Associated Students Inc. (ASI), a nonprofit entity, with the university’s student council and school administrators overseeing fund distribution. While some 100 campus clubs were given $38,629 to fund speech and expressive activities, the university gave $296,000 in student fees to fund two campus groups: the Gender Equity Center and the LGBTQA Pride Center. Both these organizations throw campus events and use these funds to pay for outside speakers.
For example, this past year the Gender Equity Center used student fees to put on the Safe Zone Training Workshop, ABC’s of LGBTQ: Queer Women, and the Pleasure Party. The center also hosted a pro-abortion lecture entitled “A Feminist History of Reproductive Rights.”
The LGBTQA Pride Center paid Dr. Sayaka, a professional sexologist, for a presentation entitled “Kink 101,” an interactive workshop covering sadism, bondage, dominance, and masochism. This center’s other events included “The Coming Out Monologues,” a theater project “celebrating the diversity of experience and identity in the coming out journey,” and Gaypril, a month-long celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning community with lectures, discussions, and a pride festival.
When Apodaca asked for $500 to help bring a nationally recognized columnist and speaker, Professor Mike Adams, to speak on campus about the issue of abortion, the request was denied. According to the lawsuit, Apodaca was told student fees can’t be used to pay for “speaker fees and travel expenses.” When the money given to Gender Equity Center and the LGBTQA Pride Center was brought up, Apodaca was told the funding rules differ for these organizations because they are “all departments of ASI and have their own budgets to do their own programming.”
“[This lawsuit] is important mainly because students here will go out after college to become business leaders, political leaders… ,” Apodaca said, explaining why student freedom of speech on his campus needs to be protected. “They need to be able to understand and articulate on the various points of view that affect our culture today.”