University of Toledo: Police Enforce Unwritten Policy to Censor Political Protesters

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Toledo

On September 15, 2014, former presidential advisor Karl Rove spoke at UT as part of a university-sponsored lecture series, which was free and open to the public. A group of students and community members aimed to peacefully protest Rove’s appearance and prior involvement in President George W. Bush’s foreign policy by distributing literature outside the lecture venue and carrying signs of protest. Campus police, however, prevented from entering the event with their signs despite the students’ assurances that they would not be disruptive to other attendees and repeatedly failed to cite any UT policy justifying their censorship of the students’ protest. FIRE wrote to UT regarding its unconstitutional censorship of the protesters’ activity on October 10, 2014, having been alerted to the incident by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). In response, UT worked with the organizations to craft a new “Expression on Campus” policy, which took effect June 1, 2015, and includes protections for students’ right to peaceful protest and demonstration.