Venkat Reddy
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UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy, shown on Aug. 24, 2014, when he was promoted to associate vice chancellor for online programs in the Division of Academic Affairs while continuing to serve as dean of the College of Business. (The Gazette file)

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Four University of Colorado at Colorado Springs students have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver, claiming their civil rights have been violated because the school does not sanction their Christian apologetics group as an official organization.

Brian Blevins, Joshua Stoll, Kayla Callender and Emily Danis, members of Ratio Christi, which seeks to “advance, teach and defend Christian beliefs,” say UCCS’ refusal to recognize or register their group prevents it from receiving funding from student activity fees.

Filed by the national Alliance Defending Freedom and Denver’s Arrington Law Firm, the lawsuit claims the university’s mandatory student activity fee system is arbitrary and discriminatory.

“Defendants have erected a series of hurdles student organizations must clear to access student activity fee funding,” the lawsuit states. “Some of these are explicitly viewpoint-based while others are implicitly so, as they grant university officials unbridled discretion.

“They have applied both to plaintiffs depriving Ratio Christi of access to these resources and illegally forcing its members to pay into a viewpoint-based student activity fee system.”

Named among the defendants are CU system President Bruce Benson and the CU Board of Regents, UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy and other staff at the local campus.

The students also claim their free speech under the First Amendment and their due process and equal protection rights 14th Amendment have been violated.

Ratio Christi “seeks to advance a Biblical worldview,” explaining how the Bible applies to various current cultural, moral, and political issues, such as a pro-life stance.

Each plaintiff has paid mandatory student activity fees of $14 per semester as students at UCCS, which are allocated to “student groups to which they object,” including those that “advocate anti-Christian or leftist political and cultural views that diverge from (and even oppose) Ratio Christi’s beliefs,” the plaintiffs argue.

The plaintiffs say they would not support recognized and registered organizations at UCCS if they had a choice because of the viewpoints some promote, naming Spectrum, an LGBTQ club, College Democrats, Young Democratic Socialists of America, Be Fair Be Vegan, and Mi Gente My People, which creates awareness of the Latinx culture.

“Once recognized, Ratio Christi and its members intend to express their religious and other beliefs on the university’s campus through a variety of means including fliers, signs, peaceful demonstrations, hosting tables with information, inviting speakers and talking with fellow students about Christian beliefs and how they impact various social, moral, cultural and ethical matters, among other things,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint, seeking unspecified damages, requests a jury trial.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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