Four colleges and universities in California, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa are being sued by students for what they claim is an infringement of their free speech rights.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education coordinated the filing of lawsuits to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits. Here in California, the student, Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle, at Citrus College in Glendora, is saying his First Amendment rights are being violated by restricting his petitioning activities to a far too small “free speech” zone on campus. He claims he was having a discussion with another student about his campaign against spying by the National Security Agency.
The other lawsuits are taking on different issues including expression via blogs and messaging on t-shirts.
Should universities enforce “civil decorum” on campus? Should free speech on campus be relegated to only a certain part of campus? Should free speech encounter any kind of restrictions at all? Should universities allow themselves to be vulnerable to the complaints of “hate speech” or other kinds of offensive communication?
Robert Shibley, Senior Vice President at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia based group that promotes free speech and due process rights at colleges and universities.