University of Southern California: Censorship of Performance and Protest

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (USC) has declared its dedication to upholding the First Amendment and has announced that it will review its speech code after FIRE denounced its recent censorship of both a campus performance and signs that it deemed offensive. FIRE intervened after a member of USC’s student affairs department shut down a public performance of a play titled ManLady because of its vulgarity. Three days later, students were detained for holding signs with derogatory language to protest the play’s interruption. FIRE wrote to USC President Steven Sample to remind him that California law forbade private universities in California from abridging the free speech rights of students, wherein FIRE enumerated how USC violated students’ free speech rights and listed numerous ways USC could correct this problem. Two USC administrators responded affirming USC’s commitment to freedom of speech, and promising a review of the university’s speech code.