LSU Ends ‘Free Speech Alley’

By July 5, 2013

Last November, FIRE’s Azhar Majeed reported on a Louisiana State University (LSU) policy that restricted student expression to a 1,000 square foot area on campus called “Free Speech Alley.” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit, Candler v. Jenkins, over the rights of a student to hand out pro-life literature in areas of campus outside of Free Speech Alley, and, indeed, without prior approval from school administrators. Thankfully, LSU has now reaffirmed those rights and revised its policies in order to protect students’ speech.

As Torch readers know, restrictive speech codes like this one are nothing new; FIRE has dealt with unconstitutional speech codes from schools all over the country. In 2012, FIRE successfully coordinated a legal challenge to a code similar to LSU’s at the University of Cincinnati, where student expression was limited to just 0.1 percent of the university’s 137-acre West Campus. In considering LSU’s policy, Azhar noted that other “memorably named zones all failed under the weight of public pressure or litigation” and he predicted that LSU’s “Free Speech Alley” would share the same fate.

LifeNews.com reported on Wednesday that Azhar’s prediction was correct; LSU has adopted a new speech policy that neither limits student expression to certain areas on campus nor requires students to obtain prior approval before distributing literature. ADF’s Legal Counsel Matt Sharp praised LSU for “promptly revising its student speech policy to clarify that students can freely express themselves on the sidewalks and open spaces at the university.” LSU’s speech code revision shows an encouraging step in the right direction for student expression. FIRE is happy to report that free speech is now right up LSU’s alley!

Schools: Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge