Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Security Officers Oust Flyer-Distributing Students from Sidewalk, Citing Eminent Domain

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

On February 24, 2018, two RPI students stood on a sidewalk outside a hockey game, passing out buttons and literature in support of the “Renew Rensselaer” campaign, an alumni effort closely related to the student-driven “Save the Union” campaign. After security guards told the students they had to leave, the students argued that the sidewalk was public property, not the private property of RPI. The security guards told the students that they had power to remove them under “eminent domain.” RPI’s lawyer later claimed, without proof, that RPI owns the sidewalk (not that it matters, as RPI promises its students freedom of expression on or off campus), that RPI policy requires students to get permission before expressing themselves on campus (it doesn’t), and that RPI’s goal is to have a “controlled environment” lest students advocate for political candidates or the NRA.