East Carolina University: Viewpoint Discrimination Against Student Organization

Category: Free Speech
Schools: East Carolina University

The student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) at ECU submitted a request to ECU’s Student Government Association to receive funding for its “Hemp Fest” event, which included a request of $150 for the purchase of legal hemp products for display and demonstration. SGA refused to fund this portion of the event, however, saying that it was “combustible” and that it would “not risk tarnishing SGA” in doing so–a clear violation of SGA’s obligation to be viewpoint-neutral in distributing funds allocated from mandatory student fees. After FIRE contacted ECU and reminded its student government of its obligation to uphold YAL’s First Amendment rights, SGA then determined that YAL was still ineligible to receive the funding because its application was too vague in its request. Though SGA seems to have abandoned its viewpoint discrimination against YAL, FIRE is still waiting for it to confirm that it will not engage in such behavior against student groups in the future.

There is currently no media coverage for this case.
  • Will East Carolina University’s and UC Santa Barbara’s Student Governments Keep Discriminating on the Basis of Viewpoint?

    May 6, 2011

    FIRE has asked East Carolina University Student Government Association President Tremayne Smith (or his successor—the university’s term is ending imminently) to make it clear that SGA will no longer discriminate on the basis of viewpoint when allocating student activity fee funds. As Peter wrote last month, SGA abused its discretion when it denied most of the funding that the student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) had requested for a Hemp Fest event. SGA Treasurer Justin Davis told YAL: [T]he nature of the event is combustible insofar as the Student Government Association’s reputation is concerned.  Appropriations will not risk tarnishing SGA by […]

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  • Despite Viewpoint Discrimination by SGA, Young Americans for Liberty Carries on With ‘Hemp Fest’ at ECU

    April 20, 2011

    Today at East Carolina University (ECU), the student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is raising awareness about American drug policy, as well as about the practical uses of legal hemp products. They’re doing so with a little First Amendment help from FIRE, but not much from ECU’s student government. I say “not much” because, indeed, ECU’s Student Government Association (SGA)—despite its obligation to uphold viewpoint neutrality in distributing student fees for student group events—decided that protecting its public image was more important than funding a “combustible” event that they apparently believe glorifies drug culture. On March 14, YAL requested […]

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