by Ruth Malhotra, graduate student and ADF client
The daughter of a 30-year veteran of the Georgia Tech faculty, Ruth Malhotra had looked forward all her life to attending the school. Once enrolled, though, majoring in International Affairs and active in Christian and conservative political clubs, she repeatedly found herself on the receiving end of university speech codes that – while designed to promote “tolerance” – were now being used aggressively to promote leftist ideologies deeply intolerant of the Gospel.
I realized early on that Georgia Tech’s policies restricted students’ rights to free speech and religious liberty, and for years I tried to change the campus climate from within.
Finally, by the time I was a senior, I felt like I had exhausted all avenues with the school. A fellow student, Orit Sklar, and I contacted the Alliance Defense Fund. We realized that the only way to hold Georgia Tech accountable was to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Institute for its selectively enforced speech codes and other blatantly unconstitutional policies.
“Going legal” is something I never imagined I would do, but I have learned that the law is God’s gift of grace to us to change things under the system. God has established the very system whereby change can be made, and since God ordains government, laws, and leaders, we trust that the legal system will bring justice where there is injustice. Understanding this was a huge step for me in terms of realizing that it was okay for me as a Christian to file a lawsuit against my school.
"I have learned that the law is God's gift of grace to us to change things under the system."
I expected some people to respond negatively to our lawsuit, but I never imagined that the reaction would be so extreme: racial slurs, Photoshopped pictures (swastikas on my face, etc.) on flyers passed around campus, clubs and websites created just to denounce me, rape threats, death threats – someone even threatened to throw acid in my face at graduation. I had constant police protection when going to classes or participating in other activities.
Sadly, I think many Christians bought into the deception that I was hateful/bigoted/racist/sexist and that I filed this lawsuit for the “right to be intolerant.”
I remember how hurtful it was when members of a Christian ministry on campus opposed my lawsuit, saying, “We want people to know that not all Christians are like Ruth Malhotra.”
On the other hand, many people are incredibly supportive of my decision to confront these challenges at Georgia Tech, and it is especially meaningful when people whom I don’t even know come up to me and tell me that they have been following the case and praying for me. Prayer is very powerful, and I have really felt the prayers of people throughout this experience.
"I expected some people to respond negatively to our lawsuit, but I never imagined that the reaction would be so extreme."
Students like Emily Brooker, Orit Sklar, and I are only part of national movement – because this is a national problem, and our stories are indicative of widespread problems on campuses across the country.
Although it has been more than two years since we filed suit, and my experience on campus has been challenging, we are winning in court by getting the policies permanently changed. I am convinced that this was the right thing to do, and I’m hopeful that our lawsuit will continue to bring about lasting changes both within and beyond Georgia Tech.