Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Binghamton University, State University of New York
On March 28, 2018, a group of Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY Binghamton) students posted approximately 200 flyers in the university’s Downtown Center. The flyers criticized the administration’s response to recent incidents of perceived racist expression on campus. A campus police officer stopped a student posting flyers and questioned him about them, claiming that he had broken state law. Campus police later announced that an investigation had been opened into the flyers.
The students then began distributing flyers directly outside the Downtown Center and were interrupted by a campus police officer again, who explained that “people came to [him] and were offended by” their flyers. He went on to warn the students that they would be asked to stop distributing flyers if their recipients littered them. FIRE wrote to SUNY Binghamton President Harvey G. Stenger on April 18, asking the university to end its investigation immediately and ensure that campus police officers receive proper training on students’ right to distribute expressive materials on campus. In a statement to the media, SUNY Binghamton failed to rectify its misunderstanding of students’ right to distribute flyers, but announced that it would not pursue an investigation against students.