University of Rhode Island: Student Senate Attempts to Compel Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Rhode Island

At the University of Rhode Island, the College Republicans came under fire for advertising a “scholarship” during “Conservative Coming Out Week,” in order to satirically protest scholarships awarded on the bases of race, gender, or nationality. Even though the College Republicans never awarded the “scholarship” to anyone, the Student Organizations Advisory and Review Committee (SOARC) decided that just advertising the award violated URI’s anti-discrimination bylaws. The committee directed the College Republicans to either publicly apologize or face derecognition, which would deny the club the ability to reserve meeting space or apply for funding. Despite a letter from FIRE informing the Senate of the constitutional ban on compelled speech and a directive from URI President Robert Carothers to drop the mandatory apology, SOARC stood by its decision and voted to derecognize the College Republicans. After much media scrutiny, the Senate voted to drop the mandatory apology, and allow the College Republicans the recognition they deserve.