Will IU’s ‘Free Speech Zone’ Fall Next? A Former FIRE Intern Investigates

By on March 1, 2012

In the Indiana Daily Student this week, former FIRE intern and senior Nico Perrino writes about free speech issues at his school, Indiana University-Bloomington (IU). His piece discusses the recent lawsuit filed by students at the University of Cincinnati challenging that campus’s restrictive "Free Speech Zone." As Nico points out, IU has similar restrictions on how students can use public spaces on campus, limiting "free speech" to just two areas on campus and spontaneous events to just one. He writes compellingly about the confusion sown by contradictory and unevenly enforced policies:

While it might seem like IU does not always enforce these policies, their mere existence creates a chilling effect, whereby students or faculty who wish to speak or assemble don’t do so for fear of being reprimanded.

If IU wishes to avoid lawsuits similar to the one levied against the University of Cincinnati and also desires to remain in accordance with its responsibilities under the First Amendment, it would be well served to eliminate its free speech zones and open up all public areas of campus to assembly and demonstration.

For a better understanding of IU’s policies, I recommend reading Nico’s article in full and visiting FIRE’s Spotlight database entry on IU. Hopefully, IU will heed Nico’s advice and make its whole campus a "Free Speech Zone" that respects the constitutional rights of students and faculty members.

Schools: University of Cincinnati Indiana University – Bloomington Cases: University of Cincinnati: Speech Code Litigation