On Monday, FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project tallied yet another victory for free speech on college campuses. Ohio University agreed to settle a First Amendment lawsuit filed by student Isaac Smith last July after administrators censored his student group’s T-shirts.
As Torch readers may recall, Smith’s organization, Students Defending Students, which helps students accused of disciplinary infractions navigate the system for free, wore T-shirts with the group’s longtime slogan, “We get you off for free,” to a campus involvement fair. There, a school official told the students to stop wearing their T-shirts, as they were “inappropriate.” This incident and the events that followed led Smith to sue, with FIRE’s assistance.
As a condition of the settlement agreement, OU has revised problematic portions of its Student Code of Conduct to bring them in line with the First Amendment. As Reason’s Robby Soave reported, yesterday’s win marks the fourth consecutive Stand Up For Speech victory.
Here’s the rest of the OU settlement coverage:
- Associated Press, “Ohio University Settles Students’ Free Speech Lawsuit”
- The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Ohio U. Settles Free-Speech Lawsuit Over Sexually Suggestive Shirts,” Andy Thomason
- The Athens Messenger, “OU to revise free speech policies following settlement”
- The Athens News, “OU settles in student-led freedom of speech lawsuit,” Conor Morris
- The Columbus Dispatch, “Ohio University settles free-speech lawsuit over suggestive T-shirt,” Collin Binkley
- Cleveland.com, “Ohio University pays $32,000 to settle free speech lawsuit over t-shirt slogan,” Karen Farkas
- The Post, “University settles in free speech case,” Will Drabold
- WOUB, “OU Reaches Settlement In Freedom Of Speech Lawsuit,” Alyssa Pasicznyk
- The Washington Free Beacon, “Ohio University Settles First Amendment Lawsuit Over T-Shirt Slogan,” Mary Lou Byrd
- Red Alert Politics, “First Amendment defender FIRE gets Ohio University to settle t-shirt lawsuit,” Morgan Chalfant
- The Daily Caller, “The Era Of Sexual Censorship On Major Campus Is At ‘An End’,” Blake Neff
- The College Fix, “First Amendment Win: Ohio University Caves Rather Than Punish Double-Entendre T-shirt,” Greg Piper
FIRE aims to change the incentive structure that currently encourages colleges to censor the speech of students and faculty members by imposing a real cost for violating the First Amendment. So far, the Stand Up For Speech project has cost the colleges and universities that have been sued more than $240,000—funds that will be used to enable other students to defend their rights in court.