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.