Clemson University: Free Speech Zone Suspended | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Clemson University: Free Speech Zone Suspended

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory

In late October 2006, when a Clemson University club, Clemson Conservatives, attempted to register a protest of the Clemson Gay-Straight Alliance’s gay marriage advocacy, the request was denied because the requested location was outside of the university’s limited free speech zones. The conservative club protested regardless, but university police officers attended and recorded the protest. On November 9, the university’s Office of Judicial Conduct found the group guilty of holding a protest in a “non-designated area” and sentenced it to an “admonition” and “censure,” with the warning that further transgressions could result in suspension. On November 13, FIRE wrote to Clemson explaining that restrictions on free assembly violate the First Amendment and Clemson’s policies.

Although FIRE did not receive a response to its letter, Clemson’s Vice President of Student Affairs sent an email only three days later to students stating that the university was considering revisions to its policies and that while it reviewed  its policies, students may “assemble, protest or demonstrate on campus as long as they do not disrupt the normal or previously scheduled activities of the University.” The next day, the conservative group was informed that it was no longer being sanctioned.