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Kennesaw State University settles lawsuit over alleged discrimination against conservative group

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks with Katie Pavlich, editor of Townhall.com, at a book launch party, at Pearl Street Warehouse, on July 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The chapter of Young Americans for Freedom at Kennesaw State University in Georgia sued the school after it was charged a security fee for an event featuring Pavlich. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

Kennesaw State University in Georgia has settled a lawsuit against a conservative group that claimed it was being charged illegal fees.

What are the details?

The Kennesaw State chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) accused the college of discriminating against it by charging “security fees” for its events that other groups were not required to pay.

In one particular instance, Kennesaw State demanded that YAF pay the university a $320 security fee for a March 7 event featuring conservative commentator Katie Pavlich. The university considered the event featuring Pavlich to be “controversial.”

Alliance Defending Freedom filed lawsuits against Kennesaw State on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom and a pro-life student group that protested against being limited to a small “speech zone” that confined their displays to less than 0.08 percent of Kennesaw State's campus.

The lawsuit pointed out that while the school decided that the Pavlich event was controversial and required a security fee, a Black Lives Matter protest at the school was not charged any security fee.

Kennesaw State also created different tiers for student groups. Students in higher tiers were given more access to areas on campus and to school funding. YAF was classified in the lowest tier of “recognized” groups. Some Christian student groups made it to the “affiliated” tier, but none made it beyond that. The African-American Student Alliance, and Kennesaw Pride Alliance made it into the “sponsored” tier, and the International Students Association and LGBTQ Student programs made it into the “chartered” tier.

What else?

“A public university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but that marketplace can’t function properly if officials can charge a group ‘security fees’ just because they don’t like what the group is saying, or if officials can provide funding and the best locations only to those sharing ideas that they prefer,” ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham said in a public statement.

Tyson Langhofer, ADF senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom, told TheBlaze that Kennesaw State was not unique in this regard.

“Unfortunately, this type of discriminatory treatment is not limited to student groups at Kennesaw State, Langhofer said. "We currently represent, and have represented, numerous religious, pro-life, and conservative student groups throughout the country that have been discriminated against and treated differently than other student organizations because the university disagreed with their viewpoints. Universities need to stop engaging in this unconstitutional ideological discrimination and once again become the marketplace of ideas that they are supposed to be.”

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