As a public university faculty or administrator, there is much you should know about the enforcement of policies that could violate the constitutional rights of the student body. Many policies have long been a part of university regulations and have never been challenged. But just as many Americans once accepted racial discrimination, religious discrimination has unfortunately become the normal result of some long-standing regulations. You should know how public universities are violating their students’ constitutional rights and what it can cost you and your school.
We are a nation founded on the ideals of individual freedom and equality for all—ideals enshrined in our Constitution. To be American is to have the freedom of speech, association, and exercising of your religious beliefs. Thus, it seems a given that students at our public colleges and universities would retain these rights and enjoy an education in an environmen where they are able to express themselves free of censorship, reprisal, and punishment. Yet, too often, constitutional rights and fundamental liberties are being denied at our public colleges and universities. It is ironic that public universities that advocate intellectual diversity are routinely extinguishing it.
Across America, public colleges and universities are infringing on the constitutional rights of many of their students. They use speech codes, speech zones and speech-restrictive policies, student activity fee policies, “nondiscrimination” policies, and academic and employment retaliation to restrict the rights of selected students and student groups. From New York to California, professors and administrators are unlawfully restricting students’ freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to exercising of their religious beliefs, equal access, and equality of opportunity.
Often, Christian students at public colleges and universities are subjected to discrimination and injustice. Many institutions violate students’ fundamental constitutional rights by unlawfully restricting where Christian students can gather, what they can say, and when they can say it.
Dozens of federal lawsuits are summarized on Alliance Defending Freedom case map. In many of these cases, judges ordered universities to delete or rewrite unconstitutional policies. And those same judges have ordered the universities to pay the students’ attorneys’ fees—a figure that routinely climbs well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, when rights are clearly established, administrators/faculty can be held individually liable for violating student rights. Sometimes, when the violation is intentional or reckless, universities will not even assist in defending the administrator and will not indemnify them for their attorneys’ fees or for any damages paid.