On March 31, 2015, student Nicolas Tomas sued California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with help from FIRE after university police stopped him from handing out flyers advocating for animal rights because he did not have a permit to speak. The officer directed Tomas to the Office of Student Life to get a badge signed by an administrator that he would have to wear while distributing his fliers. In addition to having to wear a permit, Cal Poly Pomona required students go to a “free speech zone” to share their ideas and distribute materials. Cal Poly Pomona’s policies also dictated that students register in advance for outdoor activities, and the Office of Student Life had to approve all flyers and posters.
Tomas’ lawsuit also alleged that he was censored on a separate occasion when he stopped at the Parking and Transportation Services’ informational booth to inquire about the Parking and Transportation director’s salary; in response, the staff called the police.
Less than four months after the lawsuit was filed Cal Poly Pomona agreed to a settlement that obligated it to revise the restrictive speech codes challenged in the lawsuit and pay $35,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.