University pays $25K, enacts 'viewpoint neutral' student fee distribution to settle suit: lawyers

Court had refused to dismiss claims against individual officials for "unconstitutional as applied" fund allocations or dismiss student government as defendant.

Updated: December 16, 2022 - 2:40pm

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will pay $25,000 in attorney's fees to the Alliance Defending Freedom to settle its viewpoint discrimination lawsuit on behalf of the Christian apologetics club Ratio Christi, ADF said Friday.

The settlement also includes $1,500 already awarded by a court to be paid by two university officials for denying Ratio Christi's funding request, ADF said. The university has additionally changed its student fee distribution policy "to promote the availability of diverse viewpoints to UNL students" and ensure the "viewpoint neutral" allocation of funding.

ADF posted the stipulated dismissal and shared the official settlement terms with Just the News for verification.

Ratio Christi sued a year ago when the university withheld funding for its event because it didn't include a non-Christian perspective, as required by a student government policy on "reasonable political and ideological balance" in funded events. Only $10,000 of more than $1 million in mandatory student fees is reserved for student groups subject to this condition.

The "balance" rule didn't apply to the left-wing University Program Council, which receives $280,000 from the Association
of Students of the University of Nebraska and has discretion over the $10,000 for student clubs.

This past summer U.S. District Judge John Gerrard refused to dismiss claims for compensatory damages against university officials in their individual capacities for the "unconstitutionally as applied" funding system, or dismiss ASUN or UPC as defendants, though he gave officials qualified immunity.

The new policy was previewed last month while the settlement was being finalized.