Citrus College’s First Amendment troubles didn’t just start when an administrator stopped student Vinny Sinapi-Riddle from gathering petition signatures on campus last September 17, Constitution Day. In fact, as FIRE’s Will Creeley wrote for the Los Angeles Register earlier this month, Citrus was trying to keep Sinapi-Riddle inside precisely the kind of “free speech area” that Citrus agreed to eliminate in 2003 after another student took Citrus to court to challenge its restrictions on speech.
In his article, Will takes Citrus to task:
The last time the college was sued by a student over its free speech zone, in 2003, Citrus settled the case and agreed to pay the student plaintiff $24,000 and to revise its policy.
But in a stunning display of hubris (or incompetence), the school decided to resuscitate its free speech zone, instituting a policy almost identical to the one it abandoned under legal pressure. Now, eleven years later, Citrus College’s disdain for the First Amendment will again cost California taxpayers. History has repeated itself, and Citrus’s malfeasance is both farce and tragedy.
As Will points out, “The law couldn’t be clearer: Students at public colleges enjoy full First Amendment rights.” So even though Citrus in particular should know better than to try to limit student speech to a free speech zone, so too should all public colleges and universities across the country.
Until the message sinks in, FIRE is committed to helping students like Sinapi-Riddle defend their rights in court through our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. Students, if your college or university isn’t fulfilling its obligation under the First Amendment to allow free expression on campus, email FIRE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head over to the Los Angeles Register to read more about Citrus College’s history of censorship and why it’s vitally important that students stand up for speech.