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University of Northern Iowa president overrules student government, allows pro-life student group

The campanile on the University of Northern Iowa campus on August 26, 2019. (Mary Green/KCRG)
The campanile on the University of Northern Iowa campus on August 26, 2019. (Mary Green/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 5:24 PM CDT
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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KCRG) - A pro-life student group will be granted recognition as a registered student organization following a ruling by the University of Northern Iowa president on an appeal of the student government’s decision to deny the group that status.

The ruling, issued by school president Mark A. Nook, cited First Amendment protections in the U.S. Constitution as the overall basis to allow the campus chapter of Students for Life of America to receive registered student organization status. The registration allows the group the formal ability to organize, reserve university facilities, publically post notices, and request funding for publications and lectures.

Students for Life is an organization that promotes pro-life causes. Specifically, it aims to “recruit, train, and mobilize the Pro-Life Generation to abolish abortion,” according to the national group’s website.

Nook determined that the Northern Iowa Student Government, as well as its supreme court appellate body, incorrectly applied university rules when making the decision to deny registered status to the group and based it on “on the content of the student organization’s viewpoint, speech and assumed potential activities," according to the ruling.

“Neither the University nor NISG endorse any student organization’s viewpoints by approving them as student organizations. By denying them recognition when they intend, in good faith, to engage in lawful activities, we deny them their right to free speech and assembly guaranteed to them by the First Amendment," Nook wrote, in the ruling.

The initial denial by the NISG took place on October 7, and the NISG’s supreme court affirmed that decision on October 20.

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