James Madison University: Proposed Restriction on Campus Spirit Rock


James Madison University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

Students painted dueling messages on the “Spirit Rock” in August 2020 after protests over the homicide of George Floyd, and some of the messages offended members of the university community. In response, the university announced that it would install security cameras on the rock, and that it was considering removing the rock, among other restrictions. On September 11, 2020, FIRE sent a letter to the university calling for the administration to respect students’ expressive rights, explaining that the First Amendment bars the university from imposing content-based restrictions on the rock, as the rock is a public forum dedicated to student expressive use. On November 1, the university promised that it will not impose content-based restrictions on student expressive use of the rock.