Montana State University: Student Organizations Required to Report Lists of All Event Attendees to Administrators


Montana State University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

In July 2020, MSU began requiring student organizations to report the names of all event attendees to administrators in order to facilitate COVID-19 contract tracing. FIRE wrote to MSU on August 26, explaining that while MSU has a compelling interest in protecting student health, the First Amendment right to anonymous speech and association requires that public health efforts bear a substantial relation to, and be the least restrictive means of, achieving those important public health goals. This unconstitutional reporting requirement—unbound by any time limit or limits on the purpose for which records may be used—is not the least restrictive means for MSU to achieve its goals, and student rights could be better protected by limiting who maintains the records, when they may be accessed, and how long they are kept. After FIRE’s letter, MSU revised its contact tracing policies to no longer require that student organizations report names of participants to administrators.