The Ohio State University: Environmental Regulations Invoked to Censor Peaceful Flyer Distribution


The Ohio State University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On November 30 and December 6, 2011, students were prevented from peacefully distributing flyers in OSU’s Ohio Union building. The same Ohio Union administrator on both occasions told the students that OSU’s “green zone” environmental policy prohibited distributing paper materials. On the second occasion, the administrator additionally cited the building’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, and told the students that if she allowed them to distribute their flyers, she would have to grant the same privilege to all other OSU student organizations. FIRE informed OSU that the “green zone” designation did not reflect actual OSU policy and could not be used to censor student expression. In April 2012, following discussions with the OSU General Counsel’s office, OSU agreed alter its policies and specially designate a large vestibule near one of the building’s main entrances for distribution activity. FIRE continues to urge OSU to revise an unconstitutional “Fliers” policy to further protect student expression.