Citrus College: Speech Code Litigation

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Citrus College

NOTE: This case is NOT in conjunction with FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. If you are attempting to find information about the 2014 litigation against Citrus College, you may find it here.

In 2003, at California’s Citrus College, under the pressure of litigation and FIRE’s national campaign for campus constitutional rights, the Board of Trustees voted to rescind most of the speech codes at the public institution. This was the first victory in FIRE’s declared war on speech codes at public colleges and universities.

  • Colleges Settle Free Speech Lawsuits FIRE Promises More Litigation

    January 23, 2015

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s attempt to end “the generation-long scandal of campus speech codes” by helping to file free-speech lawsuits against a number of colleges and universities has so far resulted in more than $200,000 in settlements. The lawsuits are part of a campaign – called the Stand Up for Speech Litigation Project — that began in July with litigationagainst Chicago State University, Citrus College, Iowa State University and Ohio University. FIRE had previously brought lawsuits against Modesto Junior College and the University of Hawaii at Hilo for blocking students […]

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  • First Amendment Defender FIRE Wins $200k In Settlements

    January 23, 2015

    By Morgan Chalfant at Red Alert Politics The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has won over $200,000 in settlements for the individuals it has helped to coordinate free-speech lawsuits against universities across the country that threaten the First Amendment. In particular, three of the lawsuits that FIRE has helped organize have forced schools to revise their free speech policies and pay thousands in settlements, as reports Inside Higher Ed. For instance, a case against Citrus College in California has resulted in the school paying a $110,000 settlement in addition to revising its free speech policy and expanding its free […]

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  • Calif. College Settles Student Lawsuit, Will Comply With First Amendment

    December 12, 2014

    By Gabriel Nadales at Campus Reform CItrus College make all public spaces on its campus free speech areas after a settling a lawsuit with a student. On Sept., 17, Constitution Day, Citrus student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle was gathering signatures to petition his student government to pass a resolution condemning the National Security Agency for its warrantless spying of American citizens. When Sinapi-Riddle walked outside of the free-speech zone, an administrator confronted him and threatened to kick him off campus unless he returned to the designated speech zone. Sinapi-Riddle, a sophomore computer science major,filed a lawsuit against Citrus in July as part […]

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  • Citrus College Never Learned Its Free-Speech Lessons: Editorial

    December 10, 2014

    Editorial at Whittier Daily News Let the $110,000 Citrus College had to fork over this week to settle a free-speech lawsuit by a student be a lesson to other area colleges and schools: Stop abridging the First Amendment rights of those you teach. Really. You are supposed to be teaching, among other things, about that crucial amendment to the Constitution along with the nine others that give Americans so many freedoms in so many ways. Instead, what Citrus College administrators did by their actions was to give students a lesson in the way the First Amendment works. It’s that when […]

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  • California College Gets Busted, Again, For Violating Free Speech

    December 9, 2014

    By Bob Kellog at OneNewsNow Citrus College student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle was collecting signatures for a petition against the National Security Agency domestic surveillance while staying inside the school’s free-speech zone. Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, explains that Sinapi-Riddle ran into trouble when he talked to someone during a break. “He started talking to somebody about the petition,” Shibley advises. “And that’s when the administrators caught him and told him he could only discuss those political matters within the free speech zone.” Citrus is a community college of approximately 12,300 students located in Glendora. […]

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  • College Reaches $110K Free Speech Settlement With Student

    December 9, 2014

    By CS Staff at Campus Safety Magazine Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., has settled a lawsuit with a student who claimed his First Amendment rights were violated when an administrator threatened to remove him from campus for collecting petition signatures. Student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle was asking for signatures on a petition against the federal National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance activities when an unidentified administrator told him he was outside the school’s designated “free speech zone.” The college has agreed to pay Sinapi-Riddle $110,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, as well as revise its policies, Fox News reports. The college said it […]

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  • FIRE Celebrates Two Victories for Free Speech on Campus in 24 Hours

    December 4, 2014

    By Aleister at College Insurrection I don’t know if people truly appreciate the work that FIRE does for free speech, particularly at colleges and universities. Congratulations and thank you, FIRE. Second Victory in 24 Hours: College that Suppressed Anti-NSA Petition Settles Lawsuit LOS ANGELES, December 3, 2014—Today, Citrus College in California agreed to settle a student’s free speech lawsuit for $110,000, marking the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) second victory for the First Amendment in 24 hours. Student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle filed the federal lawsuit in July as part of FIRE’sStand Up For Speech Litigation Project. Sinapi-Riddle was threatened […]

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  • California College Settles First Amendment Suit With Student

    December 4, 2014

    By Fox News at Fox News A California community college has settled a lawsuit with a student who claimed it violated his First Amendment rights when an administrator threatened him for collecting petition signatures outside of a small, designated “free speech zone.” Student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle, with help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, sued Glendora, Calif., Citrus College after the incident, which occurred on Sept. 17, 2013 – the day designated as “Constitution Day.” Sinapi-Riddle was collecting signatures for a petition condemning the federal National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance activities. When he left the area for a lunch […]

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  • Citrus College Settles Free Speech Lawsuit By Student

    December 3, 2014

    By Melissa Masatani at San Gabriel Valley Tribune Citrus College is modifying its free speech policy and procedures after the college settled a First Amendment lawsuit on Wednesday. A lawsuit filed in July on behalf of Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle claimed the school violated the student’s constitutional rights when he was told he could not collect signatures outside of the college’s “free speech area.” In the settlement, Citrus agreed to a $110,000 payment and will be expanding the free speech area to include most open spaces on campus; changing current procedures regarding recognized student groups; and clarify what constitutes as harassment, according […]

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  • College That Squelched Student Speech Under Court Supervision For A Year

    December 3, 2014

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix Citrus College in California settled a lawsuit with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed on behalf of a student who was stopped from collecting petition signatures on Constitution Day. FIRE said the school would pay the student $110,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, and that it has revised speech-squelching policies, “agreed not to impede free expression in all open areas of campus” and adopted a First Amendment-compliant definition of “harassment.” The federal court overseeing the settlement will also retain jurisdiction for a year, so the student can “enforce the agreement without […]

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  • Wronging student rights

    September 3, 2005

    By Greg Lukianoff in The Boston Globe As summer ends and college students return to campus, a number of dreadful court decisions may cause them to wonder if their rights have taken a permanent vacation. While the past decades have hardly been a golden age for student rights, there was good reason to be optimistic in recent years. Speech codes fell at colleges from New York to California, the Department of Education finally clarified that “harassment” does not mean just being offended, and Texas Tech University had to admit that its lone 20-foot-wide “free speech gazebo” was inadequate space for […]

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  • Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

    April 15, 2005

    David French knows what intimidation is. French, the new President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, graduated from Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. One might say that anyone with similar credentials ought to know the definition of intimidation – but French’s experience is a bit more personal than that.“As a pro-life, Christian conservative, I received death threats in my campus mailbox, was shouted down by students and (once) was even shouted down in class by my own professor,” he says about his years in Cambridge. French now spends much of his time explaining to university general […]

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  • Survey: many college students fuzzy on first amendment rights

    January 1, 2004

    PHILADELPHIA — One out of four college students in a nationwide survey was unable to name any of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment, according to a free-speech watchdog group.“These survey results are disheartening, but they unfortunately are not surprising,” says Alan Charles Kors, president of the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).Even among campus administrators who were surveyed, from presidents to assistant deans, 11 percent couldn’t name any specific First Amendment rights, the survey indicated. And when asked which freedom the amendment addresses first, only 2 percent of the students and 6 percent of the administrators […]

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  • Tentative resolution reached in free speech lawsuit

    October 1, 2003

    By Jonathan Montalvo at The Clarion Online Faced with a recent lawsuit over the campus free speech area regulations, administrators at Citrus College have agreed to a settlement with 20-year-old student activist Chris Stevens. Under the compromise, the college’s insurance carrier will pay Stevens’ legal fees totally, $24,500. College officials have also agreed to suspend campus regulations on free speech areas and work to formulate a policy conducive to free speech. Stevens originally filed the lawsuit against Citrus College on May 20. He alleged that college regulations designating free speech areas violated freedom of speech by restricting free speech to only […]

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  • Speech Codes: Alive and Well at Colleges…

    August 1, 2003

    By Greg Lukianoff and Harvey Silverglate at The Chronicle of Higher Education Five years ago, a higher-education editor for The New York Times informed one of us, Harvey Silverglate, that Neil L. Rudenstine — then president of Harvard University — had insisted that Harvard did not have, much less enforce, any “speech codes.” Silverglate suggested the editor dig deeper, because virtually any undergraduate could contest the president’s claim. A mere three years earlier, the faculty of the Harvard Law School had adopted “Sexual Harassment Guidelines” targeted at “seriously offensive” speech. The guidelines were passed in response to a heated campus […]

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  • College policy must be fair

    June 16, 2003

    Pasadena Star-News FREE speech, guaranteed in our Constitution, yet oh, such a can of worms. We sympathize with the leadership at Citrus College trying to balance the right of students to protest and the needs of students who simply want to go about their studies and classes without interruption. We might not necessarily disagree with zones of protest if they are broad enough to facilitate free expression. Clearly, administration offices — often the site of sit-ins, et al., to protest college policy — ought not be off-limits. It’s the process at Citrus with which we take issue. Trustees at the […]

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  • Citrus College trustees rescind free speech zones

    June 5, 2003

    By Terry Webster at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune The Citrus College Board of Trustees Thursday rescinded two policies that led to a federal lawsuit over free speech. The board’s action does away with free speech zones on campus and restrictions on student participation in demonstrations. “We wanted to err on the side of caution,’ Edward Ortell, board president, said after the meeting. College President Michael Viera said there will be a committee of students and staff organized in the fall to design new policies. On May 20, student Chris Stevens filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the […]

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  • Demonstration Cut Short by Administrator

    November 20, 2002

    Two pro-life activists were arrested Nov. 13 after refusing to leave the Citrus College campus. Harry Rader and Dan McCullough, members of the pro-life group, Survivors, were arrested just before 1 p.m. Lt. Tim Dech, watch commander at Glendora Police Department, said that the men were cited for violating §626.4 of the California Penal Code, which gives designated community college officials the authority to remove a person or persons from a campus if “there is reasonable cause to believe that such a person has willfully disrupted the orderly operation of such campus…” Six members of the pro-life group started a […]

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  • Creeley in ‘Los Angeles Register’ on Citrus College’s History of Censorship

    July 24, 2014

    Citrus College’s First Amendment troubles didn’t just start when an administrator stopped student Vinny Sinapi-Riddle from gathering petition signatures on campus last September 17, Constitution Day. In fact, as FIRE’s Will Creeley wrote for the Los Angeles Register earlier this month, Citrus was trying to keep Sinapi-Riddle inside precisely the kind of “free speech area” that Citrus agreed to eliminate in 2003 after another student took Citrus to court to challenge its restrictions on speech.

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