Dixie State University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Dixie State University

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

On March 4, 2015, Students at Dixie State University filed a First Amendment lawsuit against their university with assistance from FIRE. The lawsuit alleged that Dixie State refused to approve promotional flyers produced by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student group that featured images negatively portraying Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. Dixie State administrators told student plaintiff William Jergins that the flyers would not be approved until he removed references to the political figures because school policy does not permit students to “disparage” or “mock[] individuals.”

The lawsuit also alleged that Dixie State’s director of student involvement and leadership unilaterally decided that YAL’s request to stage a “free speech wall” event could be accommodated only in the school’s unconstitutional “free speech zone,” rather than in the requested central area of campus.

On September 17, 2015—Constitution Day—Dixie State agreed to settle the lawsuit and revise the campus policies targeted by the lawsuit to meet First Amendment standards. The university also agreed to provide training to administrators about the campus’ new speech policies and pay $50,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.

 

  • Free Speech Becomes More Costly on College Campuses

    November 2, 2015

    By Mary Reichard at World News Group Academic inquiry needs open minds and open ears. So why do open mouths prompt college campus authorities to shut them with speech restrictions? Feminist lawyer Wendy Kaminer told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice last summer that the Department of Education is “out of control,” with a culture of censorship prevailing on campus. “Campus censorship, like western European bans on hate speech, establishes a right of particular audiences not to be offended at the expense of the universal right to speak,” Kaminer said. More recently, Republican presidential candidate Ben […]

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  • Colleges Will Pay for Stifling Diversity of Ideology

    October 21, 2015

    By Patrick Everson at Las Vegas Review-Journal Colleges and universities are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas, but that’s less and less true today. While higher education systems champion diversity of race, ethnicity and sexual identity, they’re completely unconcerned with diversity of ideology. Nothing highlighted that better than a story last week from The Cornell Daily Sun, an independent, student-run newspaper serving the Cornell University community. Phoebe Keller and Emily Friedman reported that more than 96 percent of Cornell faculty donations to political candidates over the past four years went to Democrats. Out of 323 donors, only 15 gave to conservative […]

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  • Progress Made With FIRE’s Litigation Project

    October 19, 2015

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow.com A Utah university has finally restored free speech rights to its students. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education(FIRE) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dixie State University students who were not allowed to pass out flyers that were critical of former President George W. Bush, President Barak Obama, and even Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko reports that Dixie State has agreed to comply with the demands of the lawsuit. “They have completely revamped their policies regarding free expression,” she tells OneNewsNow. “There is no more free speech zone, no more prior restraint […]

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  • Dixie State University Lawsuit Settled in Students’ Favor

    September 20, 2015

    By Craig Bennett at The Independent A lawsuit filed by three students against Dixie State University, with the assistance of FIRE, (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has been reached.  The lawsuit states that the settlement restores free speech rights to students at the University. In a release issued on Sept. 17 by FIRE on behalf of three DSU students, Dixie State University has agreed to revise speech policies and pay $50,000 in damages as well as attorney’s fees. The situation began when three students at the university, William Jergins, Joey Gillespie, and Forest Gee, attempted to get flyers approved from […]

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  • Dixie State Settles Free Speech Lawsuit; Students Get $50,000

    September 18, 2015

    By Mori Kessler at St. George News ST. GEORGE – Dixie State University has reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by three students over the university’s free speech policies, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced Thursday. As part of the settlement, the university will pay the students $50,000 total in damages and attorney fees. DSU is also revising the speech policies plaintiffs claimed were restrictive and vague. Once the lawsuit was filed, Dixie State quickly came to the table “Once the lawsuit was filed, Dixie State quickly came to the table and we were able to […]

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  • DSU to Pay $50K in Damages, Adopt New Free Speech Policies

    September 17, 2015

    By  David DeMille at The Spectrum Dixie State University is paying $50,000 and agreeing to stick to less-restrictive free speech policies after settling this week with students who sued the school after alleging their efforts to host a club rally was thwarted by unconstitutional school rules. Signed by DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams on Monday and finalized with the plaintiffs on Thursday, the settlement outlines new changes to the school’s policies regarding club events, flier approval processes and the controversial practice of designating “free speech zones” in specific areas of campus. The school also agrees to provide training to administrators about the new […]

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  • Utah University Settles Free-speech Suit with Former Students

    September 17, 2015

    By Annie Knox at The Salt Lake Tribune Dixie State University has settled a free-speech lawsuit from three students who were blocked from posting satirical portraits of Barack Obama, George Bush and Che Guevara on campus. The settlement was finalized Thursday, closing the suit directed by nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). One of the plaintiffs, former Dixie student William Jergins, said he’s “absolutely thrilled” by the resolution. “We’re told in every civics class since the third grade how important freedom of speech is in a democracy,” Jergins said. If First Amendment rights are restricted on college campuses, […]

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  • Schools Mend Their Repressive Ways

    July 8, 2015

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow Two schools in different states – each with the same problem: speech codes and policies that prohibit student free speech – have seen the error of their ways. Students at Dixie State University in Utah filed a suit after they were told their flyers depicting two former U.S. presidents along with an image of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara “disparaged” the former chief executives. Catherine Sevcenko of theFoundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says the students contacted them for help. “I cannot imagine anything that is greater core political speech than mocking a U.S. president,” […]

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  • Opinion: Should Dixie State University Be Applauded For Allowing Free Speech?

    May 10, 2015

    By Dallas Hyland at The South Utah Independent  Last week, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education representing three Dixie State University students, DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams announced in both a campus wide email and to various press members that the current free speech codes were being placed under a moratorium. Seeing that a moratorium is the suspension of an activity, the fact that Williams would make such an announcement infers that it has been realized that the speech codes no longer serve the best interests of the university. But it begs […]

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  • Dixie State Announces It Will Revise Free Speech Polices In Wake Of Lawsuit

    May 10, 2015

    By Mori Kessler at St George News ST. GEORGE – In an email sent to students and faculty Monday, Dixie State University President Richard Williams announced parts of the university’s speech policy are being suspended while staff review and revise it. The announcement comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the school in March by three student who claim DSU’s speech policies were unconstitutionally restrictive. Aiding the students in pursuing the lawsuit is FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. It has brought to our attention the need to update and revise some of our University policies […]

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  • FIRE Makes Another University Back Down on Speech Restrictions

    May 7, 2015

    By George Leef at National Review The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has a great record when it comes to getting colleges and universities to abandon their policies against free speech. A new case is Dixie State University in Utah, where administrators told students affiliated with Young Americans for Freedom that they would not be permitted to hand out flyers. Read about it here. What’s particularly interesting in the Dixie State case is that the students’ flyers were critical of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, connecting both with Che Guevara. “Naughty, naughty” said the speech police. “We […]

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  • Dixie State University To Revise Policies To Protect Free Speech

    May 6, 2015

    By Mary Lou Byrd at The Washington Free Beacon Dixie State University, located in St. George, Utah, announced Tuesday it will suspend its unconstitutional speech codes and amend other policies after a lawsuit filed by three students challenged the university and its restriction of their free speech. Dixie State President Richard Williams announced in an email to the campus community that the university will revise its policies and suspend its speech codes. “As we work toward writing an updated, comprehensive free speech policy, the administration is mindful of Dixie State’s mission, which is to be ‘a teaching institution that strives to enrich […]

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  • Utah University Suspends Speech Rules After Lawsuit

    May 6, 2015

    By Lindsay Whitehurst at SF Gate SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Dixie State University has suspended its campus speech rules amid a lawsuit from students who say the policies violated their right to free speech. The president of the southern Utah institution announced in an email that the school is updating rules that a group of students said blocked the posting of fliers with satirical pictures of President Barack Obama, former PresidentGeorge W. Bush and the revolutionary leader Che Guevara. President Biff Williams said in the all-campus email Monday that he was troubled that the students didn’t bring the concerns […]

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  • DSU Altering Free Speech Policies

    May 6, 2015

    By Kevin Jenkins at The Spectrum Dixie State University President Biff Williams announced Monday that some of the school’s public address policies will no longer be enforced as DSU works to establish a comprehensive Free Speech policy that balances the First Amendment rights of students, faculty and staff against efforts to promote “civility and community values” on campus. “Given the nature of academic inquiry, only an open, robust and critical environment for speech will support the quest for knowledge and understanding,” Williams’ email to DSU students, which was shared with The Spectrum, stated. According to the email, until a new […]

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  • Dixie State University Suspends Speech Restrictions in Wake of Suit by 3 Students

    May 6, 2015

    By Bob Nelson at KUER A lawsuit by three Dixie State University students against the school has resulted in the suspension of what the students call unconstitutional free speech codes on campus. The suit was filed in federal court in March. It focuses on DSU’s flyer approval process and posting policy, the defined free speech zone, and club event policies. Attorneys for the non-profit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE are supporting the suit. Catherine Sevcenko is an associate director of litigation for FIRE. She says their organization works with universities around the country on First Amendment problems. […]

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  • Pres. Williams Announces Moratorium on Several DSU Free-Speech Codes, Lawsuit Continues

    May 5, 2015

    By Marcos Camargo at The South Utah Independent On Monday, May 4, Dixie State University President Richard Williams announced a moratorium on many of the school’s speech codes. The policy change, released in a campus-wide email, came as a result of a lawsuit, filed by three students against DSU in March, alleging that the university violated the students’ free speech rights. The lawsuit was filed after school officials refused to approve the distribution of fliers criticizing Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush as well as revolutionary leader Che Guevara.  In addition to refusing to approve the fliers, the suit […]

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  • Dixie State University Plans to Revise Free Speech Policies

    May 5, 2015

    By Morgan Jacobsen at Deseret News ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University announced Monday it has placed a moratorium on parts of its free speech policy after three students sued the university in March for refusing to let them post satirical fliers. University leaders also plan to revise policies dealing with free speech as well as materials posted on campus bulletin boards and residence halls. In an email Monday, Dixie President Richard Williams said he was “troubled” that students didn’t try to resolve the issue with him before taking legal action, but it did highlight the need to “update and […]

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  • Dixie State Tosses Free Speech Limits After Students Sue Over Bush Posters

    May 5, 2015

    By Annie Knox at The Salt Lake Tribune A lawsuit brought by three students has forced Dixie State University to drop its limits on free speech — at least until attorneys draft new campus rules. The St. George school announced Monday that students no longer need prior approval to post fliers or hold events on campus. Dixie State President Richard Williams announced the changes in a university-wide email. He called Dixie State a campus “where even unpopular answers, seemingly absurd ideas, and unconventional thought are not only permitted, but even encouraged.” Still, Williams urged students and others to use caution. […]

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  • Fascism Much? Dixie State U. Prohibited Flyers That Mocked U.S. Presidents

    March 30, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online Administrators at Dixie State University prohibited libertarian students from handing out flyers to promote their club because the flyers featured images that playfully mocked U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Mockery, even of national political figures, is considered disparaging behavior and is forbidden under school policy. Here are a few of the offending images from the flyers, according to The College Fix: That’s right: Using memes and catchphrases to lamely poke fun at kings Bush and Obama was deemed impermissible at a public university in the state of Utah. If that wasn’t […]

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  • Students Told They Cannot Lampoon U.S. Presidents Because Campus Forbids ‘Mocking’

    March 27, 2015

    By Andrew Desiderio at The College Fix Students at Dixie State University have filed a lawsuit against their school after administrators refused to approve their request to distribute flyers to promote their libertarian club, hand outs that rebuked big government by playfully lampooning George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Campus officials denied the flyers on the grounds that they violated school policy, which does not allow students to disparage others, according to the lawsuit. But the students, members of Young Americans for Liberty, allege their free speech rights have been infringed, and a leader of the group said in an […]

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  • Higher Ed., Lower Thinking: 2 States Dumb-Down Student Speech

    March 12, 2015

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow A university in Utah believes that students should not say or post anything that “disparages” or mocks any individual — even including Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara — while a university in Wisconsin prohibits all speech that can cause “emotional discomfort.” In the Beehive State, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) students at Dixie State University filed a lawsuit after the school refused to approve YAL promotional flyers that featured negative images of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) executive director Robert Shibley argues that such […]

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  • University Attempts To Regulate Free Speech Wall, Gets Sued

    March 12, 2015

    By Taylor Grenawalt at Campus Reform Students at Utah’s Dixie State University have filed a lawsuit against the university for attempting to regulate their free speech. The Young Americans for Liberty organization at Dixie State attempted to organize a free speech wall with the use of promotional flyers. The flyers characterized presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with Communist revolutionary leader Che Guevara, in a satirical manner that the university did not approve of. According to the school, policy prohibits students from mocking individuals and all promotional flyers must be “in good taste.” Not only was the YAL […]

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  • Students File Lawsuit Against Dixie State University Over Free Speech

    March 9, 2015

    By Staff at Good4Utah.com ST GEORGE (ABC 4 Utah) – Three Dixie State University students filed a lawsuit against the university stating that their right to free speech were violated. William Jergins, a senior at DSU, told ABC4’s Tasmin Mahfuz that he founded the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at DSU last fall semester and was frustrated when the university banned his fliers to advertise the club. He said that someone else had tried to establish a chapter on campus prior to him but the university denied their request and required them to merge with a different organization. “It took […]

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  • OPINION: Dixie State University Lawsuit And The Millstones Of Justice

    March 8, 2015

    By Dallas Hyland at the SU Independent Last week, three Dixie State University students, with the assistance of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), filed a lawsuit against the school for the unconstitutional restrictions placed on the First Amendment Rights of the students. FIRE maintains that DSU is a repeat offender of First Amendment rights citing the incident in 2012 where student, Indigo Klabanoff was thwarted, hazed, and threatened by the administration for attempting to have a club using Greek Letters in its name. (That was the school’s contention but it was seen by some as a thin […]

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  • Students Banned from Handing Out Flyers Critical of Obama, Bush, Che Guevara

    March 6, 2015

    By Mary Lou Byrd at The Washington Free Beacon Three students have filed a lawsuit against Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated when flyers they made promoting their student club were censored by school officials. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is assisting with the lawsuit, which was filed this week against the university. Dixie State disapproved of promotional flyers by the student group Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), which negatively portrayed Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. The flyers were not approved because the school […]

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  • DSU Club Sues University Over Free Speech Limits

    March 5, 2015

    By Kevin Jenkins at The Spectrum ST. GEORGE – Three members of a Dixie State University club are suing the school over alleged violations of their Constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under the law after efforts to draw participation in an on-campus rally were allegedly frustrated by school officials. William Jergins, Joey Gillespie and Forrest Gee are listed as the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit filed Wednesday against DSU’s president, police chief, dean of students and other officers, in which the students seek changes to school policy and monetary damages, as well as expenses for their out-of-state […]

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  • Young Libertarians Sue Dixie State U, Clinton Will Release Some Emails, Ferguson as Conspiracy Against Residents: A.M. Links

    March 5, 2015

    By Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason Online “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them,” Hillary Clinton tweetedlast night, days after it was revealed that Clinton used a personal email address, kept on a privately-managed server, during her time as Secretary of State. But “at very best, Clinton is asking State to turn over emails that her staffers have already weeded through and marked as potentially acceptable for public consumption,” writes Peter Suderman. A new lawsuit aims to decriminalize prostitutionin California. Filed by the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education, and Research Project, the suit alleges […]

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  • Dixie State Violates Free Speech, Students Say in Lawsuit

    March 4, 2015

    By Lindsay Whitehurst at The Associated Press Three Dixie State University students filed a lawsuit Wednesday saying that administrators at the southern Utah college violated their free speech rights by refusing to let them post fliers with satirical pictures of former President George W. Bush and the revolutionary leader Che Guevara. The members of Young Americans for Liberty also say one of their events designed to celebrate free speech was wrongly relegated to a small, out-of-the-way part of the St. George-based campus. The lawsuit filed in federal court seeks damages and changes to rules the students call arbitrary. “I don’t […]

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  • ‘Free Speech Zones,’ Then and Now

    December 27, 2016

    In September 2013, FIRE released an infographic reporting for the first time on the number of schools in our Spotlight Database that have “free speech zones”—policies limiting student demonstrations and other expressive activities to small and/or out-of-the-way areas on campus. At that time, roughly one in six of the colleges and universities in Spotlight maintained a free speech zone policy. This year, we decided it was time to take a fresh look at that figure, since a lot has changed over the last few years. And as we announced in our just-released 2017 report on campus speech codes, the number […]

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  • VICTORY: Lawsuit Settlement Restores Free Speech Rights at Dixie State U. After Censorship of Bush, Obama, Che Flyers

    September 17, 2015

    Dixie State agrees to revise restrictive speech policies, pay $50,000 in damages and attorney’s fees University claimed Bush, Obama, Che flyers “mock[ed]” individuals Lawsuit is seventh consecutive victory for FIRE’s undefeated litigation project ST. GEORGE, Utah, September 17, 2015—Dixie State University’s 8,570 students have a special reason to celebrate Constitution Day today after their university agreed to settle a First Amendment lawsuit filed earlier this year by three students. The settlement—finalized today—is the seventh consecutive victory for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) unprecedented and undefeated Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. As part of today’s settlement, Dixie […]

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

    May 7, 2015

    PHILADELPHIA, May 7, 2015—Dixie State University in Utah and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona have both agreed this week to suspend numerous policies that substantially restrict students’ free speech rights on campus. The policy suspensions result from lawsuits filed this year as part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, an unprecedented and undefeated national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes from the nation’s public colleges and universities. “FIRE has been warning colleges for years that the Constitution is clear—there is no place for speech codes on a public college campus,” said […]

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  • After Lawsuit’s Filing, Dixie State Suspends Restrictive Speech Codes, Plans to Revise Policies

    May 5, 2015

    ST. GEORGE, Utah, May 5, 2015—Dixie State University has announced that it will suspend the unconstitutional speech codes that three students challenged in a First Amendment lawsuit filed in March. The lawsuit, which is supported by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), targeted Dixie State’s unconstitutional flyer approval process, posting policies, “free speech zone,” and club event policies—all of which are now suspended. In addition to suspending the speech codes, Dixie State President Richard B. Williams announced in an email yesterday to the campus community that the university will permanently revise its policies. In his email, President Williams […]

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  • Media Report on Latest Stand Up For Speech Case: Censorship at Dixie State

    March 18, 2015

    Earlier in the month, students William Jergins, Joey Gillespie, and Forrest Gee filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Utah’s Dixie State University, the eighth and most recent suit filed as part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. We at FIRE are no strangers to the argument that campuses must be a “safe space” free from emotional and ideological discomfort. Dixie State kicks it up a notch by ensuring that sitting presidents and long-dead revolutionaries are also protected from the peril of college students with sharpened viewpoints—in this case, flyers negatively portraying Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush […]

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  • Students Sue Dixie State U. Over ‘Free Speech Zone,’ Censorship of Bush, Obama, Che Flyers

    March 4, 2015

    ST. GEORGE, Utah, March 4, 2015—Students filed a First Amendment lawsuit today against Utah’s Dixie State University, with assistance from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The lawsuit challenges numerous unconstitutional restrictions that Dixie State, a repeat offender against freedom of speech, has placed on the First Amendment rights of Dixie State students. The lawsuit alleges that Dixie State refused to approve promotional flyers produced by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student group that featured images negatively portraying Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. Dixie State administrators told student plaintiff William […]

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