Med Student Sues School for Allegedly Prohibiting Him From Forming Group to Promote Healthcare Reform
“I decided to sue in order to uncover the truth and to stand up for my basic constitutional and human rights”
When it comes to free speech rights and creative expression, more students should probably sue schools in this way. It’s the only way they’ll stop doing this sort of thing.
The FIRE blog reports:
LAWSUIT: A med school prohibited a student from starting a club promoting healthcare reform. Now he’s suing to protect his rights.
“Do no harm” is the foundational principle of medical ethics, but a public medical school is harming its students by attempting to sterilize their opinions.
Edward Si, a student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, won’t let that happen. Today, backed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Si filed a lawsuit against interim EVMS President Alfred Abuhamad and other university officials.
Si wants to establish a chapter of Students for a National Health Program (the student branch of the national organization Physicians for a National Health Program) at EVMS. Recognized clubs at EVMS receive a variety of benefits, including funding eligibility, use of the school’s name and branding, and use of campus facilities.
But the Student Government Association denied the club’s application for recognition solely because the club is based on an “opinion” — despite recognizing other opinion-based groups like Medical Students for Choice and the Christian Medical and Dental Association.
Si hopes that the lawsuit will vindicate his rights and send a message that public universities cannot get away with violating their students’ expressive and associational liberties.
“I decided to sue in order to uncover the truth and to stand up for my basic constitutional and human rights,” Si said. “Without freedom of expression, there can be no student activism and political advocacy.”
In December 2020, on behalf of himself and 20 other prospective SNaHP members, Si applied for recognition to the student government. The following month, the SGA denied SNaHP’s application, claiming that it “does not want to create clubs based on opinions, political or otherwise, and the mission and goals of your club do not describe what we believe to be necessary or sustainable for a club.” The SGA cited no other reason for the denial.
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