Modesto Junior College Free-Speech Activist, Student Groups Join to Celebrate Constitution Day

September 12, 2014

By Nan Austin at The Modesto Bee

This Constitution Day, student groups at Modesto Junior College will come together to hand out free copies of the U.S. document. Among them will be the man who last year sued the school to protect students’ right to free speech.

The Associated Students of Modesto Junior College, College Republicans and Pirates for Liberty Club will distribute the Constitution copies from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the east campus quad and on the west campus outside of the Mary Stuart Rogers Student Learning Center.

“We want to inform students on their basic rights as citizens of the United States of America,” said Tyler Menane, ASMJC vice president of legislation. “Come get your free Constitution!” Menane is working with other clubs to get donated Constitutions to pass out to students.

Last Sept. 17, Rob Van Tuinen said he was stopped from handing out free copies of the Constitution on the MJC east campus quad. Video he shot of the incident went viral online, bringing a storm of protests pouring into the campus and Yosemite Community College District. An ensuing legal action ended with changes to the YCCD policy on free speech in common areas and a $50,000 settlement.

Van Tuinen, president of Pirates for Liberty, said he again will be handing out U.S. Constitutions on Constitution Day 2014. The group will also have a Free Speech Wall for students to express themselves, he said, and a speaker from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE helped launch Van Tuinen’s video and supported his legal challenge against the district.

The Pirates for Liberty Club is the Modesto chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.

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