Citrus College Settles Free Speech Lawsuit By Student

December 3, 2014

By Melissa Masatani at San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Citrus College is modifying its free speech policy and procedures after the college settled a First Amendment lawsuit on Wednesday.

A lawsuit filed in July on behalf of Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle claimed the school violated the student’s constitutional rights when he was told he could not collect signatures outside of the college’s “free speech area.”

In the settlement, Citrus agreed to a $110,000 payment and will be expanding the free speech area to include most open spaces on campus; changing current procedures regarding recognized student groups; and clarify what constitutes as harassment, according to a statement from the school.

“Citrus College agreed to eliminate its restrictive ‘free speech zone’ in the face of a FIRE lawsuit back in 2003, but later reinstated its speech quarantine when it thought no one was watching,” the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Greg Lukianoff, said in a statement. “But FIRE was watching, and we’ll continue to do so. If the speech codes come back again, so will we.”

The lawsuit was one of four filed by FIRE as part of a project targeting unconstitutional speech codes at colleges and universities.

Schools: Citrus College Cases: FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Citrus College: Speech Code Litigation