Community College of Allegheny County: Student Denied Right to Start Advocacy Organization

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Community College of Allegheny County

A student who was trying to form a gun-rights group at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pennsylvania was threatened with disciplinary action. Administrators banned Christine Brashier’s informational pamphlets, ordered all copies of them destroyed, and decreed that further “academic misconduct” would not be tolerated. A dean reportedly told her, “You may want to discuss this topic but the college does not, and you cannot make us.” After FIRE came to the student’s aid, CCAC proffered post hoc rationalizations, stating that in order to avoid punishment the student must obtain the school’s imprimatur before distributing her message, thus subjecting her pamphlets to unconstitutional prior restraint. After months of national media attention, Christine was finally allowed to distribute pamphlets about the group she was forming, and the college rescinded its unconstitutional policy demanding “prior written approval” for “personal contact with individuals or groups related to non-sponsored college material or events.”