Virginia Tech and Student Expression Rights in ‘The Daily Caller’

By December 13, 2011

In The Daily Caller today, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley discusses how unconstitutional policies on the books at Virginia Tech actually prohibit spontaneous gatherings like the candlelight vigil that university members organized after the shooting death of a campus police officer last week. Although the vigil was not shut down, it could have been, and that’s the point: "free speech zone" policies and other burdensome requirements for university approval should not exist in the first place. Robert writes: 

The reason that Virginia Tech did not bother enforcing these burdensome requirements on Thursday night is obvious: the university would have been universally condemned for stopping these students from mourning the death of police officer and Iraq War veteran Deriek W. Crouse, and rightfully so. But here’s the thing—in a free society, your freedom of expression cannot and must not depend on the willingness of the authorities to bend their own rules. 

The fact that hundreds of universities across America continue to defy the Constitution and reserve the right to prohibit and forcibly break up candlelight vigils like this one on their campuses is a national scandal. America’s institutions of higher education can do better. Thursday’s vigil at Virginia Tech shows that it’s long past time that they did. 

To read his full piece, click here.

Schools: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University