CASEStudents for Life at Eastern Michigan University v. Parker

Client Story
Angela Little

Angela Little was a freshman at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) when a friend persuaded her to help establish a Students For Life (SFLA) chapter at the school. They collected signatures, recruited an adviser, and launched a slew of activities: Chalk Day (pro-life messages on campus sidewalks); Planned Parenthood Day (prominently exposing the corporation’s pro-abortion agenda), a petition drive protesting state insurance for abortion. Many of the events drew sizeable attention, brought out protesters, and stirred considerable discussion.

“We’re getting people to talk,” Angela said. “That’s our goal."

But EMU officials balked at letting SFLA bring the Genocide Awareness Project to campus. The project, which has stirred lively discussions and even protests on campuses coast to coast, presents an array of graphic photos comparing attitudes toward abortion with the equally-callous-toward-human-life attitudes of American slave owners and Nazis during World War II.

SFLA leaders did what all clubs on campus do when planning a major event – they applied for funding for the project from the EMU student government. Their request, though, was denied. When the club requested an explanation, student officers said the presentation was too “biased” and “controversial,” and declined to negotiate further.

Like the other members of the club, Angela was angry – and intimidated.

“I got mad,” she said. “I pay a lot of money in student fees every year, and we can’t get support?  I’ve paid hundreds of dollars, and never seen any of it go to a group I actually agree with.”

After a lot of thought, Angela and the others decided that “It’s not fair for them to pick and choose what they fund and what they don’t.” With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, they filed suit against the school, which soon yielded and changed its bylaws.

“An article I read said,
Victory for EMU Students For Life Group. But it wasn’t just a victory for us.”  It was a win, she said, for “any small, conservative, Christian group that EMU didn’t want to fund. Just because they’re a big university doesn’t mean they’re always right. Sometimes, administrators need to be confronted. Somebody needs to stand up.” 


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Summary
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University on behalf of a pro-life student organization. University officials denied the group funding from mandatory student activity fees based on its “political or ideological” views even though the university funds other groups involved in political and ideological speech.
News Releases

EMU agrees to end discrimination against pro-life student group

Religious Freedom

EMU agrees to end discrimination against pro-life student group

University settles lawsuit, will remove ban on student fee funding for ‘political or ideological’ student organizations

Nov 21, 2013 Read More

Pro-life display too ‘controversial’ for EMU

Religious Freedom

Pro-life display too ‘controversial’ for EMU

Alliance Defending Freedom files lawsuit on behalf  of student group denied funding

Mar 20, 2013 Read More
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Documents
https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/students-for-life-at-eastern-michigan-university-v.-parker/students-for-life-at-eastern-michigan-university-v-parker---settlement-agreement.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/students-for-life-at-eastern-michigan-university-v.-parker/students-for-life-at-eastern-michigan-university-v-parker---complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=8
Court Title Date
Trial Court
Settlement agreement Oct 31 2013
Trial Court
Complaint Mar 19 2013

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