College student claims he was denied free speech

September 20, 2013

by Tim Daly at News 10.

On the day we celebrate the Constitution, Robert Van Tuinen had a simple plan – hand out copies to fellow students at Modesto Junior College.

“I really, really just wanted to pass out the Constitution and inform people of their rights,” Van Tuinen said. “I feel every student should be aware of what’s in it.”

In a video he shot and posted on YouTube, the 25-year-old student is told by a campus cop and then a school official on Tuesday, that their are rules he’d have to follow to accomplish his goals. He was told he needs to be in a designated area for free speech; then he was told, to be part of a group handing out information, he needs to register first with the college.

“It’s ridiculous that I have to get permission at a public institution, getting public dollars, to ask for something like this,” he said.

School officials acknowledged Friday, Van Tuinen didn’t appear to be causing a disruption and the school appeared to over react.

Modesto Junior College Public Relations Marketing Director Linda Hoile said the school could have handled the situation better.

“I wish he had filled out forms and it would been a non issue,” Hoile said.

Considering how agitated Van Tuinen sounded in the video, it’s unlikely he’d agree filling out a form would have helped.

Schools: Modesto Junior College Cases: Modesto Junior College: Students Barred from Distributing Constitutions on Constitution Day