A Christian student group has withdrawn a lawsuit alleging that North Carolina State University administrators violated the group’s free-speech rights after the university revised a disputed policy, The News & Observer reported.
Under the policy, the Christian group was required to obtain a permit to speak or distribute its literature on the campus.
A federal judge last month ordered the university to temporarily cease enforcing its policy while the lawsuit by the student group, Grace Christian Life, was heard. Such orders are often a sign of how a court is likely to rule on the merits of a case.
But now the university has changed the 23-year-old policy so that no permit is needed for noncommercial speech, the newspaper reported. North Carolina State also agreed to pay $72,500 in legal fees accumulated by Grace Christian Life.
On the same day this was resolved, I finally heard back from NC State on my Freedom of Information Request regarding the number of groups and types of groups which were required to fill out a form to appear on campus. From the email satisfying the request:
The figures below represent the number of requests for campus activities during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Campuswide requests reflect all requests made on campus during the last fiscal year. “Student Involvement” requests reflect all requests made through Student Involvement.
Religious Groups – 1919
Total – 23060
Student Involvement (2015-16)
Religious Groups – 248
Total – 860
To me, the last two numbers still seem suspect. The previous batch of requests I received from the university also showed a large percentage of the overall requests were from religious groups.
As you can see, roughly two thousand religious requests were filed campus wide, against a total of twenty-three thousand requests. That actually seems logical.
This indicates that the university was requiring many other groups to fill out requests. My cynical self thought for sure that religious groups were being singled out, and the lawsuit made that allegation.
I would call this a win for free speech and religious expression. We don’t get these everyday.