Officials at Virginia Tech recently gave the “okay” for a long-overdue change to its policies governing funding for student organizations in response to a letter from ADF warning the university that its policies violated the First Amendment.
Virginia Tech had a policy allowing student clubs and organizations to apply for funding from the university for events and activities hosted by student groups. The money for this fund was collected from a mandatory student fee that the university charged to all students. While a near limitless variety of activities and events could receive funding, the policy discriminated against religious student clubs, stating that “[o]rganizations will not be provided funding for religious worship or religious proselytizing.”
What does this mean in practice? A Greek club could get funding to host a concert featuring a popular rap artist, but a Christian club would be denied access to those same funds for a concert for a Christian worship artist. Or as the rapper might say: “Throw ya hands in the air like ya just don’t care (as long as ya ain’t doing it for Jesus).”
Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that a public university must distribute student fees in a viewpoint-neutral manner. After ADF sent a letter to Virginia Tech explaining that its discriminatory policy against religious worship and religious proselytizing violated the First Amendment, Virginia Tech notified ADF that “[e]ffective immediately, the Administration will direct that the Student Budget Board delete the restriction from its policies.”
It is encouraging to see one of our nation’s premier universities showing a healthy respect for religious expression on campus. If your school has a similar restriction on funding for religious organizations or activities, contact ADF. Your courage to speak up may be all it takes for your university to change its policies.
This post originally appeared here.