Grambling State University: Ban on Core Political Expression

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Grambling State University

The Media Relations department at GSU sent an e-mail on July 13, 2010, ordering the GSU community to delete all e-mails containing political campaign solicitations and to not forward them because doing so implied support for a particular candidate. FIRE wrote President Frank G. Pogue, explaining that this policy unduly restricted the right to freedom of speech. In response, Director of Public Relations Vanessa Littleton claimed that GSU does not prohibit political expression on campus, but she then cited GSU’s “Email Use Policy,” which substantially restricts freedom of speech. For example, it bans “joke emails” and those containing “offensive comments” about—among other attributes—one’s political beliefs. FIRE wrote President Pogue a second time about these violations of freedom of speech. Pogue responded on October 8, 2010, promising to revise the policy. No policy revisions have been publicly released.

  • Complaints filed over GSU e-mails

    September 23, 2010

    Grambling State University and the University of Louisiana System are consulting legal counsel about GSU’s e-mail policy after the ACLU of Louisiana and a nonpartisan educational foundation sent letters to the university saying the policy is unconstitutional and suppresses free speech. The educational foundation, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, was the first to send a letter to GSU President Frank Pogue after the university’s media relations office sent an e-mail to students on July 13 telling them not to forward campaign solicitations through university e-mail accounts because doing so could imply university support and violate state law. “Individuals […]

    » Read More

  • Free-Speech Advocates Challenge E-Mail Policies at Grambling State

    September 22, 2010

    Grambling State University, in responding to criticism of an e-mail policy that, it says, does not even exist, has ended up provoking a much bigger controversy over the policies it acknowledges having on the books. In denying complaints by free-speech advocacy groups that it had imposed unconstitutional restrictions on its students’ use of its e-mail system for political speech, Grambling cited on Wednesday its policies governing the use of its e-mail system by its employees. The advocacy groups ended up objecting to those far more. In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and the […]

    » Read More

  • Grambling State University Bans Political E-Mails, Cites State Law

    September 22, 2010

    Weeks ahead of a crucial midterm election, a Grambling State University in Louisiana has banned its students and faculty members from forwarding “campaign solicitations” using the school’s e-mail system, contending it is a violation of Louisiana law because it would amount to an institutional “endorsement” of a campaign. Orders to withhold forwarding election-related e-mails were made in July, but when the public university’s school year started, free speech advocates and at least one political candidate questioned whether the policy would be withdrawn. “We would hope the university would make it clear what student involvement (in politics) should be,” said Robert […]

    » Read More

  • University bans political e-mails

    September 21, 2010

    Officials at Grambling State University in Grambling, La., have dispatched an e-mail to students warning them against forwarding certain political e-mails they may get on the school e-mail system, because they could violate “state policy.” The issue is being highlighted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which monitors educational institutions for violations of civil rights. “As the national dialogue increasingly focuses on the upcoming elections, administrators at Grambling State have made the unconstitutional decision to shut down the conversation on campus,” said Robert Shibley, the organization’s senior vice president. “The First Amendment protects such core political expression, and […]

    » Read More

  • FIRE Releases Statement on Political Activity on Campus for 2012 Election Season, Following Censorship at Grambling State University and Other Colleges

    November 9, 2011

    With the 2012 election season getting underway, FIRE is reminding college students and faculty across the nation of their right to engage in political speech on campus. Today, FIRE releases an updated and expanded Policy Statement on Political Activity on Campus detailing the protection for political expression enjoyed by students and faculty at public and private colleges nationwide. Given the censorship of political speech FIRE witnessed during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons at universities such as Grambling State University (GSU), FIRE’s reminder is timely and necessary. Our policy statement details the freedom of political expression that students, student groups, […]

    » Read More

  • FIRE Releases Statement on Political Activity on Campus for 2012 Election Season, Following Censorship at Grambling State University and Other Colleges

    November 9, 2011

    PHILADELPHIA, November 9, 2011—As the 2012 election season begins, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is reminding college students and faculty across the nation of their right to engage in political speech on campus. FIRE today releases an updated and expanded Policy Statement on Political Activity on Campus detailing the protection for political expression enjoyed by students and faculty at public and private colleges nationwide. Given the censorship of political speech FIRE witnessed during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons at universities like Grambling State University (GSU), which prohibits students and faculty members from engaging in a wide […]

    » Read More

  • Adam Kissel Discusses Grambling State’s First Amendment Violations with The Pelican Institute

    October 20, 2010

    The Pelican Institute, a Louisiana-based public policy research organization, recently interviewed FIRE’s Adam Kissel about the ongoing violations of free speech at Grambling State University. Torch readers will remember that GSU circulated an e-mail notice to students prohibiting them from forwarding political e-mails through the gram.edu e-mail system if those e-mails “impl[y] your support” for a political candidate. GSU’s initial response to FIRE’s concerns revealed even more problems with GSU’s e-mail restrictions, prompting a joint statement from FIRE and the ACLU of Louisiana. The Pelican Institute’s article (which has been reprinted at The Daily Caller) offers a concise rundown of […]

    » Read More

  • Will Grambling State Respect Free Speech in Time to Make a Difference this Election Season?

    October 15, 2010

    Time is quickly running out for Grambling State University (GSU) to provide a meaningful response to FIRE’s and the ACLU of Louisiana’s (LA ACLU’s) entreaties to ensure the protection of political speech at GSU. FIRE’s first letter, Torch readers will remember, prompted a policy statement from GSU so troublesome—banning, among other things, “offensive comments” about “hair color”—that FIRE and the LA ACLU released a joint statement about it. We wrote a second time to GSU President Frank G. Pogue on October 1, urging his administration to correct this wayward policy. Pogue has now responded to FIRE’s letter, and I quote […]

    » Read More

  • Speech Code of the Month: Grambling State University

    October 4, 2010

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for October 2010: Grambling State University. Grambling State University (GSU) has an e-mail policy that bans “the creation or distribution of any disruptive or offensive messages, including offensive comments about race, gender, hair color, disabilities, age, sexual orientation, pornography, religious beliefs and practice, political beliefs, or national origin.” GSU employees who receive any such e-mails from other employees are instructed to “report the matter to their supervisor immediately.” This policy betrays any sense of a free marketplace of ideas at GSU, as FIRE explained on October 1 in a letter to GSU President Frank G. […]

    » Read More

  • Media Spotlight Intensifies on Grambling State University

    September 23, 2010

    By severely restricting political speech through e-mail, Grambling State University is in violation of the First Amendment—and local and national news outlets are now on the case. FIRE was the first to draw national attention to GSU’s misbehavior, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (LA ACLU) seconded FIRE’s concerns with its own letter sent yesterday. GSU’s initial response was so lacking that FIRE and LA ACLU issued a joint statement yesterday bringing further First Amendment issues with GSU’s policies to light. FoxNews.com (whose coverage heavily informs a subsequent story in the New American) was among the first major […]

    » Read More

  • Grambling State University Response to FIRE, September 22, 2010

    September 22, 2010

    September 22, 2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Contact: Vanessa Littleton Phone (318) 533-5337 Email:  mediarelations@gram.edu   Grambling State University does not prohibit students or employees from political expression.  Our policy is as follows: Grambling State University Email Use Policy 1. Grambling State University email system shall not to be used for the creation or distribution of any disruptive or offensive messages, including offensive comments about race, gender, hair color, disabilities, age, sexual orientation, pornography, religious beliefs and practice, political beliefs, or national origin. Employees who receive any offensive emails with this content from any Grambling State University employee should report […]

    » Read More

  • FIRE and ACLU of Louisiana Release Joint Statement on Grambling State University’s Violations of First Amendment

    September 22, 2010

    As FIRE noted earlier today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has echoed FIRE’s concerns over Grambling State University’s (GSU’s) unconstitutional restrictions on the use of university e-mail systems for political speech. GSU has now issued a wholly inadequate statement on the matter that reveals even deeper violations of First Amendment rights at GSU than previously thought. GSU’s response has prompted FIRE and the ACLU of Louisiana to release this joint statement: FIRE AND ACLU of LOUISIANA JOINT STATEMENT REGARDING GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY’S RESPONSE September 22, 2010 Grambling State University’s response to the concerns raised by the Foundation for […]

    » Read More

  • Grambling State University Bans Use of E-Mail for Core Political Expression

    September 16, 2010

    As the 2010 election season enters full swing, Grambling State University (GSU) is prohibiting its students and faculty members from engaging in a wide swath of constitutionally protected political expression. Today’s press release details that the Louisiana public university has forbidden students and faculty from transmitting any “campaign solicitations” via the university’s e-mail system, a ban that includes any message that “implies your support” for a political candidate. The case originated on July 13, when GSU’s Office of Media Relations e-mailed all students on campus that “Individuals who receive political campaign solicitations via university email are advised to delete these […]

    » Read More

  • Grambling State University Bans Use of E-Mail for Core Political Expression

    September 16, 2010

    GRAMBLING, La., September 16, 2010—As the 2010 election season enters full swing, Grambling State University (GSU) is prohibiting its students and faculty members from engaging in a wide swath of constitutionally protected political expression. The Louisiana public university has forbidden students and faculty from transmitting any “campaign solicitations” via the university’s e-mail system, a ban that includes any message that “implies your support” for a political candidate. Concerned students turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “As the national dialogue increasingly focuses on the upcoming elections, administrators at Grambling State have made the unconstitutional decision […]

    » Read More