The Palm Beach Post reported yesterday that the Student Press Law Center, the College Media Advisers, the Society of Professional Journalists and the University Press held an interesting event at Florida Atlantic University to celebrate Constitution Day and teach students about the importance of First Amendment freedoms. Students were given free food and an enlightening experience in the “Kingdom of the Socialist States of the People’s Republic of Boca Raton,” a section of campus representing a country without the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and freedom of association. Gangs of club-wielding fraternity members patrolled the area to enforce the strict order of the “socialist” country. Some students eating together were forced apart, denying them freedom of association.
The event wasn’t without incident. One student, unaware of the intent of the event, stood up to the fraternity members attempting to force him to dissociate from his friends and refused to depart. Later the student said, “I know I have a right to be here and I will die for my rights.” Fraternity members playing socialist state police for the day expressed pride that such students wouldn’t obey their orders because it demonstrated to them that at least some people realized their right to First Amendment freedoms in this country.
Unfortunately, FAU has a red light on FIRE’s Spotlight. It’s too bad the “Kingdom of the Socialist States of the People’s Republic of Boca Raton”—supposedly a make-believe country—is actually a rather fitting portrayal of the free speech environment at FAU and the American university in general, as is evident by FIRE’s numerous free speech cases.