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Pierce College lawsuit brings campus ‘free speech zones’ into question




Elementary school teacher Lisa Petry of Virginia Beach, Virginia, holds up a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Elementary school teacher Lisa Petry of Virginia Beach, Virginia, holds up a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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A student filed a lawsuit this week against Pierce College after he was restricted from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution outside of a “free speech zone.”

As reported by the Associated Press, Kevin Shaw, the student, says he was barred from distributing literature because he hadn’t applied to use the designated zone which is about the size of three parking spaces. The suit has brought to light a bigger debate about campus free speech.

What do you think about “free speech zones”? Do these zones help with campus safety and order or breed censorship?

*Note: We reached out to the L.A. Community College District and Pierce College. We were given this statement from District Consultant Yusef Robb: "The Los Angeles Community College District firmly stands behind every student's right to free expression. We have no further comment on the lawsuit at this time."

Guests:

Scott Lewis, J.D., partner with The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM) Group, a law and consulting firm that offers systems-levels solutions for safer schools and campuses; he is also co-founder and advisory board member of the Association for Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) and the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (NaBITA)

Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon, senior program officer with Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)