Free speech is being zoned out on campus

October 4, 2013

by Charles Haynes  at Albert Lea Tribune

Robert Van Tuinen’s run-in with campus police would be a funny story — if it weren’t such a disturbing example of how freedom of speech is under assault on many American college and university campuses.

As reported in The Daily Caller and elsewhere, Van Tuinen, a student at Modesto Junior College in California, was stopped from handing out copies of the Constitution on Sept. 17 — the 226th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.

College officials informed Van Tuinen that he could get permission to distribute the Constitution, but only if he registered for time in the “free speech zone” — a tiny concrete slab big enough for two people.

Looking over the calendar, an administrator told Van Tuinen that she has “two people on campus right now, so you’d have to wait until either the 20th, 27th, or you can go into October.”

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Virtually everything about the Modesto Junior College “free speech” policy is wrongheaded and unconstitutional.

As Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, explains, the college “sent police to enforce an unconstitutional rule, said that students could not freely distribute literature, placed a waiting period on free speech, produced an artificial scarcity of room for free speech with a tiny ‘free speech area,’ and limited the number of speakers on campus to two at a time...

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