California State Polytechnic University, Pomona – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

Category: Free Speech
Schools: California State Polytechnic University – Pomona

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.

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    By Greg Piper at The College Fix An animal rights activist at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona is suing the school for making him get permission to hand out flyers and confine his activity to the school free-speech zone as a condition of his campus activism. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is assisting Nicholas Tomas with the suit through its Stand Up for Speech litigation project, explains the situation: The lawsuit alleges that on February 4, a Cal Poly Pomona police officer stopped Tomas from handing out flyers on a campus sidewalk. The officer directed Tomas to the Office of […]

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    March 31, 2015

    By Jennifer Champagne at Paste Magazine Animal rights activist and California State Polytechnic University student Nicolas Tomas has filed a lawsuit against his university for restricting his free speech rights. Tomas has partnered with Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which protects and preserves students’ rights across college campuses. According to the lawsuit, Tomas alleges that a campus police officer had stopped him from distributing animal rights flyers on the sidewalk, asking Tomas to obtain a permit to pass out flyers on campus at a designated “free speech” zone for students. The zone makes up barely 0.01 percent of […]

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  • Cal Poly Admin Says Suit Could Have Been Avoided If Student Had Only Met with Her First—But He Did

    August 17, 2015

    In April, a spokeswoman from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona claimed that if Nicolas Tomas, who challenged the university’s unconstitutional free speech zone in court, had just come to the administration, the situation could have been remedied without a lawsuit. As I pointed out here on The Torch in April, Nick did try to get administrators to address his concerns about free expression on campus—only to be given copies of outdated policies and told that he would have abide by their restrictive terms. Unable to get any satisfaction through bureaucratic channels, Nick turned to FIRE for help and became the […]

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  • Victory: Animal Rights Activist Restores Free Speech Rights of Cal Poly Pomona Students with Lawsuit Settlement

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    LOS ANGELES, July 23, 2015—California State Polytechnic University, Pomona agreed today to settle a First Amendment lawsuit filed by Nicolas Tomas, a student and animal rights activist. Tomas’ victory restores not only his First Amendment rights but those of the nearly 24,000 students who attend Cal Poly Pomona. The lawsuit is the sixth consecutive victory for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) unprecedented and undefeated Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. With assistance from FIRE, Tomas filed suit against Cal Poly Pomona in March after campus police and an administrator prevented him from handing out flyers about animal abuse […]

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  • ‘Los Angeles Times’ Shares Remarks from Student, Admins, Lawyers at the Heart of Cal Poly Pomona Lawsuit

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    A week ago, FIRE announced that California State Polytechnic University, Pomona was suspending its unconstitutional restrictions on speech during settlement talks for student Nicolas Tomas’s lawsuit against the school, brought as part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. Tomas filed the suit in federal court after a campus police officer stopped him from handing out animal rights flyers outdoors on campus. Today, reporting by the Los Angeles Times reveals—yet again—the clash between college administrators’ desire to avoid intellectual conflict and the Constitution’s requirement that they allow the free exchange of ideas. As the Times explains, public colleges like […]

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  • Dixie State U., Cal Poly Pomona Suspend Restrictive Speech Codes in Wake of FIRE-Led Lawsuits

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  • Cal Poly Pomona Suspends Unconstitutional Policies in Response to Animal Rights Activist’s Lawsuit

    May 6, 2015

    LOS ANGELES, May 6, 2015—In response to a First Amendment lawsuit filed by student and animal rights activist Nicolas Tomas, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona has promised not to enforce the university policies at issue while the case is being litigated. The lawsuit, which was filed in March as part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, targeted Cal Poly Pomona speech codes that restrict where, when, and how students can exercise their free speech rights. “Cal Poly Pomona required students to wear a free speech badge in a free speech zone […]

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  • Two Reasons Why Cal Poly Pomona Lawsuit Is Different

    April 10, 2015

    Last week, student Nicolas Tomas sued California State Polytechnic University, Pomona for violating his First Amendment rights by limiting his efforts to campaign for animal rights to a tiny “free speech zone” that makes up about 0.01 percent of the campus. Tomas’s suit, the ninth in FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project (SUFS), was the fifth to challenge the constitutionality of a free speech zone—a particularly obvious type of violation of the First Amendment that FIRE has challenged both in and out of court for years. This case has produced two interesting variations, however. First, students at Cal Poly […]

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  • Cal Poly Pomona Plaintiff Speaks Out on Why He Decided to Sue His School

    April 8, 2015

    In a recent op-ed for California State Polytechnic University, Pomona’s student newspaper, The Poly Post, student-plaintiff Nicolas Tomas reviews the events that led him to sue his university and his goals for the lawsuit. As Torch readers may recall, on March 31, 2015, Tomas filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Cal Poly Pomona with FIRE’s help. It is the ninth lawsuit filed as part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. Tomas is deeply passionate about veganism and animal rights issues. He tried to share this passion for animal rights with his peers at Cal Poly Pomona, but he […]

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  • Student Animal Rights Activist Sues Cal Poly Pomona for Requiring Permit to Speak

    March 31, 2015

    LOS ANGELES, March 31, 2015—College student Nicolas Tomas filed a First Amendment lawsuit today against California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with assistance from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The lawsuit targets university policies that restrict where, when, and how students can exercise their free speech rights. The lawsuit alleges that on February 4, a Cal Poly Pomona police officer stopped Tomas from handing out flyers on a campus sidewalk. The officer directed Tomas to the Office of Student Life to obtain a “permit,” namely a badge that he would have to wear while distributing any written material. […]

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