The University of Alabama has apologised for removing a student group’s pro-life display without talking to them first.
The university removed the display following complaints over the content, despite it not breaching official rules.
Bama Students for Life, which produced the material, reasoned against the decision saying that “all kinds of speech” which could be deemed ‘offensive’ are allowed by the university .
Current rules allow the university to remove “ammunition, firearms, alcoholic beverages or representations of these items”.
But the pro-life display showed only pictures, posters and statistics about abortion.
On Monday the university apologised to Bama Students for Life, and the pro-life group is set to return the display to the students’ union building.
Following the U-turn, Kristan Hawkins – who leads a pro-life group working with students across America – said: “This is a significant victory for pro-life students, and I know this case will now inspire hundreds of our other Students for Life groups to courageously stand for their beliefs”.
Bama Students for Life were supported by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberty organisation in America.
ADF’s Matt Sharp said: “Censorship is inconsistent with ‘the marketplace of ideas’ that a public university is supposed to be”.
“We commend the university for its quick response to Bama Students for Life’s free speech concerns”, he added.
In its letter of complaint to the university the pro-life group said: “We believe that the removal of our pro-life display violates our First Amendment right to free speech.”
It added that the student building “permits all kinds of speech by other students and student groups that many people would find ‘offensive’ or ‘graphic'”.
On Monday the student union director emailed the group saying: “Please accept my apology that your display was removed without your knowledge two days before your reserved time expired.”
Following the pro-life controversy, the rules on displays at the university students’ union are being reviewed.