Ohio University: Political Flyers Censored in Dorms

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Ohio University

In September 2012, Ohio University student Jillyann Burns posted a flyer on the door to her residence hall room, criticizing the policy positions of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Shortly after Burns posted her flyer, a resident assistant warned residents that “NO political posters/flyers should be hung in the hallways or on you[r] door until 14 days before an election.” Following a room inspection on September 17, Burns was informed again of this requirement and the possibility of discipline if she did not comply. FIRE wrote to OU on September 28, informing the university that its restrictions on political flyers violated students’ First Amendment rights. On October 1, Burns was informed that she was once again allowed to post political materials on her door, and that OU would revise and clarify its policies.

  • Free Speech on Politics at School

    October 16, 2012

    Ohio University is no longer banning political speech in its dorms in the final weeks leading up to November’s presidential election. Robert Shibley explains that when Jillyann Burns, a student, was ordered to remove a political flyer from her dorm room door, she contacted his organization, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “After a room inspection, they told her that she had to take it down or else face going to a disciplinary hearing, simply for having a poster on her door that criticized both President Obama and Governor Romney,” Shibley details. Burns posted the notice, an invitation for like—minded Bobcats to come to […]

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  • Jillyann Burns, Libertarian Ohio University Student, Wins Free Speech Fight

    October 10, 2012

    Jillyann Burns likes neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney and figured there were others students at Ohio University in Athens who are “sick of the two party system.” So in early September she pasted a notice on the door of her dorm inviting like-minded Bobcats to come to a meeting of the OU College Libertarians. Days later, though, a residence hall adviser blasted out an email to students warning that “NO political posters/flyers should be hung in the hallways or on you[r] door until 14 days before an election.” Burns was ordered to take the flyer down. As a protest, she put up a […]

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  • What’s ‘Out of Proportion’ About Defending the First Amendment?

    October 15, 2012

    As we publicized last week, Ohio University (OU) found itself in a constitutional pickle after it censored a political flyer that student Jillyann Burns had put on her dorm room door. Fortunately, OU corrected its error quickly, and FIRE commended the university for doing so.  Unfortunately, despite its quick action, OU is also apparently claiming that the whole matter wasn’t that big a deal. OU campus publication The New Political quotes Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi as saying that the matter has been “completely blown out of proportion” by the publicity FIRE has brought to the case.  Lombardi […]

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  • With Election Day Close, Ohio University Ends Political Censorship in Dorms

    October 9, 2012

    Here’s today’s press release:  ATHENS, Ohio, October 9, 2012—Ohio University dorms are no longer censoring students’ political speech, freeing students to make their voices heard in the final weeks before Election Day. After student Jillyann Burns was ordered to remove a flyer criticizing both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney from her residence hall door, she turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Our society has long recognized that not only does political expression deserve the strongest protections against censorship, but that the college campus is of particular importance to our national dialogue,” said […]

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  • With Election Day Close, Ohio University Ends Political Censorship in Dorms

    October 9, 2012

    ATHENS, Ohio, October 9, 2012—Ohio University dorms are no longer censoring students’ political speech, freeing students to make their voices heard in the final weeks before Election Day. After student Jillyann Burns was ordered to remove a flyer criticizing both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney from her residence hall door, she turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “Our society has long recognized that not only does political expression deserve the strongest protections against censorship, but that the college campus is of particular importance to our national dialogue,” said FIRE Senior Vice President […]

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