EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville has settled a lawsuit alleging the school violated First Amendment rights by limiting free speech to a small area on campus.

The Alliance Defending Freedom represented College Republicans at SIUE when it filed the lawsuit in October 2017. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of restricting student expression to a 905-square-foot zone in Stratton Quadrangle.

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said Monday public colleges and universities are supposed to be laboratories for democracy.

SIUE spokesman Doug McIlhagga said there were misconceptions from the get-go about the school's policy. Students were never confined to a free speech zone, and permission was never required to speak elsewhere on campus.

Langhofer says SIUE agreed all outdoor areas of campus generally open to the public are available for students to speak out. McIlhagga says the university will pay attorney fees.