Kent State University: Proposed Restriction on Campus Free Speech Rock


Kent State University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

Students painted dueling messages on the Kent State free speech 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 stated that it is exploring ways to address offensive expression on the rock, including potentially removing the rock. On September 23, 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 December 18, Kent State announced new restrictions on painting the free speech that are largely permissible time, place, and manner regulations.