Wayne State University Settles With Pro-Life Student Group Over Discrimination

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Wayne State University Settles With Pro-Life Student Group Over Discrimination

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 13
, 2009

Detroit, MI (LifeNews.com) — Officials at Wayne State University in Michigan have settled a lawsuit filed by the campus pro-life student group which said the university discriminated against it. Last year, WSU Students for Life said university officials refused to allow the organization the same access to student fees and facilities as other student groups.

The pro-life students contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life group that filed a lawsuit against the school and its student fee policy.

The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the school’s policy, which precludes student groups with religious viewpoints from benefits that are extended to student groups with nonreligious views.

Joseph Martins, an ADL staff attorney, informed LifeNews.com today that it reached a favorable settlement on behalf of WSU Students for Life. Wayne State has agreed to change its unconstitutional student fee and facilities use policies and pay back previously denied student fee funds.

“Pro-life student groups shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs,” he told LifeNews.com. “Public universities cannot discriminate against student organizations simply because of their religious or political viewpoints, and we are pleased that Wayne State has now come to this understanding.”

Andrea Bezaire, president of WSU Students for Life, submitted a budget request to WSU’s Budget Committee to help fund the group’s Pro-Life Week 2008 events.

The committee denied the request “because of the spiritual and religious programming references in the cover letter.”

In Bezaire’s appeal of the denial, she removed all religious references in order to meet the budget committee’s demands.

Even so, the university replied by again denying the group’s entire budget request, with some student council members stating that the subject matter of the group’s events was inappropriate and would greatly offend women who had an abortion.

Also revised as part of the settlement was WSU’s reservation policy, which denied Students for Life access to a room because the university officials declared the group’s pro-life event “unsuitable.”
ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum also commented on the case.

“Universities cannot enforce policies designed to suppress student groups from presenting religious perspectives on societal issues,” he said.

The lawsuit, Wayne State University Students for Life v. Driker, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
A copy of the filed complaint is available at https://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/WSUStudentsForLifeComplaint.pdf.

Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.alliancedefensefund.org

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