Free Speech Zones, Past and Present

By on July 10, 2007

In yesterday’s Campus Alert, FIRE’s weekly column in the New York Post, we discussed the disturbing prevalence of free speech zones at America’s public universities. Providing readers with a representative sample of schools that either currently maintain free speech zones or have done so in the past, we wrote:

Onerous speech zones have been reported at Clemson University in South Carolina, Western Illinois University, Florida State University, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, University of Oregon, California State University at Chico, West Virginia University, University of Nevada at Reno, Citrus College in California and the University of Northern Texas, as well as many other campuses.

While space restrictions prevented detailing the specific restrictions of each college’s free speech zone, it is important to note that several of these schools have altered their policies since they were first brought to FIRE’s attention. For example, Torch readers will remember that the University of Nevada at Reno’s free speech zone policy was dismantled voluntarily by the school’s administration after students contacted FIRE with their concerns about the policy’s constitutionality. The University of North Carolina–Greensboro’s free speech zone was challenged by students, and the university later changed its policy to ensure that “the majority of its outdoor spaces [are] available to members of the University community and invited guests for purposes of speech, assembly, and petitioning activities.” Continuing the trend, students at California’s Citrus College and West Virginia University were able to force their respective schools to rescind their free speech zone policies with help from FIRE. (You can read more about the victory at Citrus College here, and about West Virginia University here.)

FIRE is proud of our success in combating free speech zones at campuses across the country, and we commend schools like the ones mentioned above for their responsiveness in bringing their policies in line with the First Amendment.

Schools: Citrus College University of Nevada, Reno University of North Carolina – Greensboro West Virginia University