The Political Club of Clearwater Christian College hosted Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar on October 1, 2010. Club members and visitors warmly received the team as they told about their quest for freedom of speech on a state university campus.
They were students at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2006, when the two filed a lawsuit against Georgia Tech for its free speech policies. Through this lawsuit they were able to change the school rules on free speech.
Malhotra had wanted to attend a Conservative Political Action Club meeting. Her instructor informed her that she would fail his course if she went to the meeting.
Believing that he was kidding, Malhotra went anyway. When she returned from her trip, she learned that she was indeed failing his class. Consequently, she filed a lawsuit against Georgia Tech.
The following article by Nedra Rhone appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on June 25, 2010:
When Georgia Tech students Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar sued the school in 2006 for unconstitutional speech policies, both intended on pursuing careers in their majors: international affairs and civil engineering.
But by the time the suit was settled in 2008 both women were ready to change course.
Today, Malhotra, 26, is a research assistant for Philadelphia-based Campus Watch's program to improve Middle East studies at North American universities. Sklar, 25, launched a communications firm focused on branding, media and development for conservative and faith-based organizations.
"I wanted to be engaged in this fight on a more fundamental level," said Malhotra, who also works part time with her church, First Baptist Atlanta, in the area of world missions.
The federal civil rights lawsuit, supported by the Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund, challenged Georgia Tech's speech code, the use of a "free speech zone" and portions of the university's "Safe Space" training manual that were considered unconstitutional.
In 2008 a federal court judge agreed that the training manual should be changed. The university had already eliminated part of its speech code. For the two women, it was a decisive victory.
They had received a number of calls from people who wanted to help, but had not found a productive way to plug them in, Malhotra said. So in 2007 Malhotra and Sklar co-founded the nonprofit Alliance for the Future of Georgia Tech, an organization they still oversee today.
"Our focus is to preserve the core values of Georgia Tech's academic excellence, historic tradition and academic freedom," Malhotra said. They have done some work behind the scenes while seeking seed money for a more public launch.
As a result of the suit, Malhotra received death threats, had to leave her sorority house to protect the safety of other members, and spent her last two semesters with a police escort. Malhotra said she also underwent personal changes as a result of the experience. "Something I really value is authenticity. I wanted to be myself and be honest through this case and I grew to value that quality more in others," she said.
For their efforts, the two women became the youngest recipients of the Ronald Reagan Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2009.
In March, which marked the fourth anniversary of the lawsuit, they were invited back to Tech to host a First Amendment forum. "Orit and I have both been embraced by the larger conservative movement, locally and on a national level," Malhotra said, ticking off the list of luminaries she has had the chance to meet, including Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.
In the future, Malhotra plans to focus on higher education, First Amendment rights and constitutional principles. The greatest lesson she has learned, she said, is to just get in the ring.
"So many people sit back and complain about things they don't agree with, but they fail to show up for the fight," she said. "The reason conservatives and Christians have lost so much ground in recent years is they haven't taken a stand and been bold in our action. The result is we have lost one battle after another. When you do see us taking a bold stand and following through with action, we come out ahead and we do win the majority of the time."
The article above is located at
In the Clearwater Christian College Political Club meeting, Malhotra and Sklar encouraged audience members to be active in politics because they can make a difference in the United States local, state and federal governments.
Newsweek's Howard Fineman wrote on March 5, 2007, that Malhotra's "parents were born in Calcutta and New Delhi. They emigrated to the United States so that he could teach. They converted from Hinduism to Christianity."