Arkansas Tech University: Student “free speech ball” event confined to free speech zone

Category: Cases, Free Speech

On September 20, 2016, members of Arkansas Tech University’s chapter of the national campus libertarian group Young Americans for Liberty held a “free speech ball” event, rolling a giant beach ball around open, outdoor areas of campus and inviting fellow students to write messages of their choice on its surface. They were approached by a campus public safety officer and told to confine their expressive activity to a tiny free speech zone. On January 4, 2017, FIRE wrote to Arkansas Tech, asking the school to reform its “Speech and Demonstration Regulations” to protect its students’ First Amendment rights. Arkansas Tech’s general counsel reviewed the policy and worked with FIRE on reforms that were unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees on August 17, 2017, and included in the 2017–2018 Student Handbook.

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