Johns Hopkins University: Viewpoint-Based Rejection of Pro-Life Group

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Johns Hopkins University

On March 12, 2013, Johns Hopkins University’s Student Government Association Senate voted to deny recognition to pro-life student group Voice for Life (VFL) on the basis that the club’s activities might make people feel “uncomfortable.” Minutes of the senate’s meeting showed that personal distaste for VFL’s mission factored into VFL’s rejection, and Student government members also wrongly claimed that VFL’s activities violated Johns Hopkins’ harassment policies. The Johns Hopkins Office of Institutional Equity rebutted this allegation, funding VFL’s activities “fully in accord with the university’s robust commitment to the values of free expression and open debate.” On April 8, FIRE wrote the SGA Judiciary Committee, urging it to grant VFL’s appeal and reverse the senate’s vote. The committee unanimously overturned the senate’s rejection and granted VFL official recognition the next day.