By Karen Morfitt
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado State University is being sued by one of their own student run organizations.
The group, CSU Students for Life, claims the University denied them funding strictly because of their views.
Emily Faulkner has been the president of that group for more than a year.
“It was clear in the email that I was sent that we were denied because of the content of the speaker,” Faulkner said.
In September Faulkner applied the group for a diversity grant.
According to the University’s website the grants — in part — are designed to “raise awareness of differing perspectives.”
Faulker wanted to bring pro-life speaker Josh Brahm to campus to talk about abortion. She felt their group met all the required criteria.
“They are looking for diversity. You have to be a registered student, organization which we are. You have to present an opinion, a view, that is different, that is not necessarily common or maybe that more people want to learn about,” she said.
Shortly after submitting the group’s application, Faulkner got an email from the grant committee denying their request for funding.
The reason was the speaker’s content didn’t appear be “entirely unbiased” and went on to say “The committee worries that folks from varying sides of the issue won’t necessarily feel affirmed in attending the event.”
“I was just really shocked, and really upset and angered because a university campus is supposed to promote free speech,” Faulkner said.
She immediately reached out to the organization Alliance Defending Freedom for guidance.
Attorney Tyson Langhofer says the money to fund that grant comes from students and should be distributed fairly.
“The Supreme Court and courts across the country have made it very clear when a public university imposes mandatory student fees on students that they have to allocate those funds in a viewpoint-neutral fashion and clearly in this case they were not doing that,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner is now taking on the university and suing for what she believes is a violation of constitutional rights. The goal of the lawsuit is to get CSU to change their policy or return those student fees.
CSU spokesperson Mike Hooker says they were not aware of the lawsuit until this week and that they are reviewing claims and issues raised, and will respond accordingly. Hooker says the university does not typically comment on pending litigation.
The Brahm event still took place on campus, it was just funded with money CSU Students for Life raised instead of through the grant.
Karen Morfitt Joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around metro Denver. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.