If you’ve visited FIRE’s website in the past five months, chances are that you’re already familiar with the case of former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes, expelled from his public university for peacefully protesting the construction of a $30 million dollar parking garage on campus. Frankly, it’s a pretty hard case to forget; there’s a reason that we’ve named VSU as just one of four schools on our Red Alert list. But if you’re not familiar with Barnes’s case, or if you’d simply like to meet Barnes and his legal defense team first-hand, check out the following video—and prepare to be shocked.
The film—produced by Evan Coyne Maloney, the critically acclaimed documentarian responsible for last year’s Indoctrinate U—features on-the-scene interviews with Barnes and his attorney, noted First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere, as well as with FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. Filmed on VSU’s campus in Georgia earlier this year, the film provides a powerful illustration of precisely how illiberal policies and a contempt for constitutional rights can irreparably harm a student’s career—that is, if such abuses go unnoticed. Unfortunately, kicking students out for engaging in protected speech isn’t the only way VSU tramples on the fundamental liberties of its students. Adding insult to injury, the school also maintains a blatantly unconstitutional free speech zone—the painful absurdity of which is also well-captured on film.
As we like to say, universities often have a hard time defending in public that which they do in private. Luckily, with the help of the camera and your continued support, we’re able to document and expose the abuses happening at universities like VSU. We think this film demonstrates precisely just how important FIRE’s work is to defending individual rights on campus, and we encourage you to share it with your friends and family.