Sinclair Community College: Unconstitutional Ban on Distributing Literature After Class

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Sinclair Community College

Ethel Borel-Donohue, a student in SCC’s Paralegal Program, peacefully distributed fliers regarding abortion, birth control, and breast cancer, after a class session. Days later, Borel-Donohue was summoned to the office of Judge Michael Brigner, Paralegal Program Chair. In a meeting in November 2010, Brigner reportedly stated that another student had complained to him about being “offended by the material in the brochures.” Brigner then told her she “had no right to hand out any materials to students in the classroom.” FIRE wrote to SCC President Steven Lee Jackson on March 16 in defense of Borel-Donohue’s free speech rights. FIRE also pointed out SCC’s unconstitutional speech code banning the distribution of literature throughout much of the SCC campus. Ohio Assistant Attorney General Lauren M. Ross initially defended SCC’s actions while pointing to an additional, conflicting policy also abridging the First Amendment right to distribute literature on campus. After FIRE wrote SCC Board of Trustees Chair Lawrence Porter, however, Porter replied to FIRE on May 10, 2011, stating that SCC was reviewing its speech policies after all. FIRE is awaiting the results of SCC’s review of its unconstitutional bans on distribution of literature.