Citrus College – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Citrus College

This lawsuit is a part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. 

On September 17, 2013—Constitution Day—Citrus College (Glendora, California) student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle was threatened with removal from campus by an administrator for asking a fellow student to sign a petition protesting NSA surveillance of American citizens. His crime?  Sinapi-Riddle was petitioning outside of the college’s tiny “free speech area.” Sinapi-Riddle is president of the Citrus College chapter of Young Americans for Liberty and is passionate about his political beliefs, but he has curtailed his expressive conduct on campus in light of this incident and Citrus College’s speech-repressive policies.

Amazingly, this is the second time FIRE has coordinated a lawsuit against Citrus College’s “free speech area.” In 2003, the college agreed to abandon its free speech zone as part of a court-approved settlement following a First Amendment lawsuit filed by a student.

In addition to challenging Citrus College’s “free speech area,” which comprises just 1.37% of campus, Sinapi-Riddle is challenging two other policies: (1) the college’s “verbal harassment policy,” which prohibits a wide range of speech protected by the First Amendment, including “inappropriate or offensive remarks”; and (2) the college’s elaborate permitting requirements for student group speech, which require student groups wishing to express themselves on campus to wait two weeks and obtain the permission of four separate college entities prior to doing so.