East Carolina University: Viewpoint Discrimination Against Student Organization


East Carolina University

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Case Overview


In March 2011, the student group Young Americans for Liberty at East Carolina University 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 promotional purposes. SGA refused to fund this portion of the event, however, stating that it “will not risk tarnishing SGA by funding the portion of the request determined necessary for the purchase of hemp products.” On April 11, FIRE sent a letter to the Student Body Treasurer of SGA, explaining that the content-based denial of funding to YAL violated its First Amendment rights and requesting that SGA employ only content-neutral guidelines in appropriating funds. Following FIRE’s first letter, SGA determined that YAL was still ineligible to receive the funding, because its application was too vague. On May 3, FIRE sent another letter, this time to the president of SGA, requesting a response and affirmation that SGA will never discriminate against a student organization because of its viewpoint but will, instead, employ only constitutionally permissible, viewpoint-neutral guidelines.