Are “free speech zones” dying? Recent events seem to suggest so. For many years now, colleges have used the zone as a way to regulate free speech. By putting small zones in obscure areas of campus, administrators have sought to make free speech irrelevant. Many times use the of zone is also regulated. My favorite example of this type of Orwellian control happened in California when a student could not hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution because he had not “reserved” use of the free speech zone. See his encounter here.
But in the past few months, there seems to be a reverse in the trend in using the zone. A great example is in Tennessee. In May the Tennessee legislature passed the Campus Free Speech Protection Act (Senate Bill 723). The bill, which the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) was an advisor, won huge support in the legislature. Among other things it prohibited the dreaded zone on public colleges, and adopted the University of Chicago’s Free Speech Policy Statement.
In North Carolina East Carolina University recently amended its policy after a student sought the help of Alliance Defending Freedom. The campus was subsequently given a “green light” status by FIRE. North Carolina now has six colleges with a “green light” status making it the state with the most campuses with this status. Read the article from ADF here.
If you would like to hear an attorney with ADF talk about free speech issues on campus click here.
If you would like to hear Ed Russ discuss a student’s lawsuit against North Carolina State University for blocking religious free speech click here.
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