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Lawsuit claims Ball State withheld funds from pro-life group

Students at Ball State University are taking the school to court after officials allegedly denied funding to an organization because of its pro-life views. 

In a statement released Wednesday, the non-profit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced that it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the student group that asked the school for $300 from mandatory student activity fees to host a February event for pregnant and parenting students on campus.

ADF believes that the funds were denied because of the pro-life views of the organization, Students for Life, asserting that other groups with “ideological views that university officials favor” received funding.

“Officials denied Students for Life’s request because the organization advocates for pro-life views,” ADF claims, noting that the Student Activity Fee Committee “distributed funding from the same pool to organizations that advocate for viewpoints administrators prefer, including Feminists for Action, Secular Student Alliance, and Spectrum.”

[RELATED: Georgetown votes against defunding traditional marriage group]

While the school says it does not give financial support to groups that are “political” or “religious” in nature, Students for Life of America (SFLA) President Kristan Hawkins challenged the school’s defense in a separate press release.

“Ball State University says it pledges to ‘value the intrinsic worth of every member of the community,’ but its student government is playing favorites and stifling free speech,” Hawkins said. 

“If BSU wants to respect every member of its community, it will give Students for Life, along with other groups, equal footing,” she continued. “We support the free speech rights of all students, encourage the open exchange of ideas, and ask that the rights of pro-life students be respected as their peers’ rights are.” 

[RELATED: University scraps ‘trigger warnings’ for pro-life displays]

ADF agrees, noting that as a public university, Ball State is required to give equal treatment to clubs.

“Public universities are supposed to provide a marketplace of ideas, but that market can’t function properly if the heavy hand of government promotes some views over others,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton. 

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11017

SURVEY Vast majority of college students demand due process

A new survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reveals that students want due process to ensure “justice and protection” in college disciplinary proceedings.

FIRE announced the new findings in a press release Wednesday, noting that 85 percent of survey respondents “think students accused of misconduct should be considered innocent until proven guilty,” just as the Constitution guarantees to those accused of crimes.

Likewise, the free speech watchdog found that 8-in-10 students think that pupils accused of breaking the law “should be allowed to have a lawyer help defend them in campus disciplinary proceedings.”

An even greater proportion of respondents endorsed due process protections more generally, with 98 percent saying it is “important” or “very important” for students to have such protections in college.

[RELATED: Syracuse suspends 16 students for satirical frat roast]

Despite the overwhelming demand for due process, however, FIRE observed that “only 30 percent of top schools” presume innocence of the accused, and only three top colleges give students an opportunity to have a lawyer present at disciplinary proceedings.

“Only 16 percent of students think that the primary purpose of a campus disciplinary hearing is to provide an educational experience for those involved,” the summary continues, noting that “84 percent of students think that the primary purpose of a campus disciplinary hearing is to provide justice and protection to students on campus.”

Many colleges and universities, including Emory University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, have resisted the idea of resolving misconduct trials through the legal system, arguing that the assessments of student conduct are largely “educational” in nature. 

According to FIRE’s press release, the report also found that while “three-quarters of students support cross-examination in campus disciplinary proceedings,” only a third of schools listed in its previous due process report “consistently provide students a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.”

[RELATED: STUDY: Most top schools deny ‘basic elements’ of due process]

Samantha Harris, FIRE’s vice president of policy resear

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11016

USC report complains of too many white male film critics

A recent report from the University of Southern California frets that film critics are “largely white and male,” and offers solutions that are designed to solve that problem.

According to USC News, Associate Professor of Communication Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative penned the “Critic’s Choice?” report to “investigate inclusion among film reviewers” and examine “access and opportunity for film critics.”

“The report uses reviews of the 100 top grossing films of 2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes to assess gender and race/ethnicity of critics, finding that reviewers are overwhelmingly white and male," the university observes.

[RELATED: Students earn credit for attending White Privilege Conference]

The June study includes many infographics detailing the prevalence of white males in the film critic community, as well as breakdowns of other diversity statistics. 

One illustration, for instance, sets a "target" demographic makeup for the film critic community of 30 percent white males, 30 percent white females, 20 percent “under-represented males,” and 20 percent “under-represented females.”

“Groups should think of the phrase 30/30/20/20—this is the U.S. population breakdown for white males, white females, underrepresented males, and underrepresented females,” Smith explained.

“Across the 100 top movies of 2017 and 19,559 reviews, male critics authored 77.8% of reviews and female critics authored 22.2%,” one key finding reads. “This translates into a gender ratio of 3.5 male reviewers to every 1 female.”

Likewise, the report stresses that “white critics authored 82% of reviews whereas critics from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups authored 18%.”

[RELATED: Texas students launch 'No Whites Allowed' magazine]

In an effort to solve this “problem,” the study offers “recommendations” such as calling on film review aggregator sites to "court" minority reviewers in order to establish "parity,” arguing that such sites could decide which critics to include in their rating summaries based on race and gender.

The document also suggests that review aggregator sites could "provide consumers with information regarding how many reviews for a film were authored by women and/or people of

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11015

UMich caves after DOJ calls speech policies unconstitutional

After repeatedly insisting that a First Amendment lawsuit endorsed by the federal government was based on “mistaken premises,” the University of Michigan has revised its speech policies.

As Campus Reform originally reported, the free speech advocacy group Speech First filed a lawsuit against UM in May alleging that the university’s policies on harassment, bullying, and bias were “highly subjective” and unconstitutionally broad, to the point that they could cause students to censor themselves for fear of violating the obscure policies.

The lawsuit also objects to a provision in the school’s disciplinary code that imposes harsher penalties for “unwanted negative attention” that administrators deem to be motivated by “bias,” but UM countered with a court filing declaring that the lawsuit “mischaracterized” its actual policies.

[RELATED: UMich claims free speech lawsuit has ‘mistaken premises’]

The U.S. Department of Justice subsequently weighed in with a statement of interest agreeing with Speech First’s interpretation of the case, declaring that UM’s code of conduct is “unconstitutional” and that its bias response policy “chills protected speech” on campus.

UM spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald disputed the DOJ’s assessment shortly after it was announced, telling Michigan Radio that the government’s attorneys likewise misinterpreted the school’s policies.

“Contrary to the department’s statement, the university’s Bias Response Team does not 'have the authority to subject students to discipline and sanction,'” Fitzgerald asserted. “It provides support to students on a voluntary basis; it does not investigate claims of bias or discipline students in any way.”

[RELATED: DOJ blasts University of Michigan’s controversial speech code]

Later that day, however, Fitzgerald posted an announcement on the school’s news website revealing that UM had “revised the statutory language to narrow the potential scope of what is prohibited, and to add additional safeguards for free speech.”

In contrast to UM’s previous statements on the matter, the post claimed that “the university already was reviewing its websites and policies to ensure they were consistent with First Amendment principles&rdq

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11014

Georgetown called out for urging donations to left-wing groups

Georgetown University Law School encouraged students to donate “time and money” to a list of left-wing activist groups, at least until more than 13,000 people petitioned against it.

TFP Student Action, an organization that promotes traditional values, launched an online petition after noticing the web page, which encouraged students to support organizations such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, The Center for Reproductive Rights, The National Organization for Women (NOW), EMILY's List, the ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and Lambda Legal, among a wide variety of others.

[RELATED: Princeton Office of Religious Life helps raise money for PP]

The original page, a guide called “A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States,” is no longer available, either because it “was not formed properly or because the page has been deleted.” Other pages bearing the same name appears in online search results, but are not available for public viewing due to “visibility settings,” suggesting that they may remain accessible to Georgetown students.

“One way to resist oppression is to strengthen the organizations that fight against oppressors,” the school asserts toward the end of the guide, in a section called “Organizations You can Support.”

“You can make a change, even if it's just an hour a week or a dollar a week. If we all give just a little, it adds up and it keeps our civil rights, our environment—our nation—from being destroyed,” the page exhorts, suggesting dozens of potential recipient organizations that are almost uniformly progressive or liberal.

Pointing out that Georgetown is the oldest Catholic university in America, TFP argued that “Georgetown should know better,” and encouraged supporters to sign a petition addressed to Georgetown President John DeGioia. As of press time, the petition had racked up 13,474 signatures, surpassing its initial goal of 10,000.

[RELATED: Catholic university bans ‘proselytizing’ on campus]

"You can't be a good Catholic and at the same time favor Planned Parenthood,” TFP Director John Ritchie told Campus Reform, asserting that "Catholic universities must never favor the culture of death,” but rather should serve as “bold champions of virtue and staunch defenders of innocent life.”

"The removal of the pro-abor

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11013

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