Report: School limits on free speech illegal

January 11, 2006

News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.)

RALEIGH – Some public universities in North Carolina impose unconstitutional limits on freedom of speech, a report issued Tuesday said.

The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released the report.

“It’s a public school system,” Greg Lukianoff, interim president of the foundation, said at a news conference in the Legislative Building.

“It’s bound by the First Amendment.”

One example cited in the report was a prohibition by Fayetteville State University on vulgar language.

Another example was the prohibition on “disrespect for persons” at UNCG.

Later this month, UNCG will hold an honor code hearing for at least one student charged with a violation of the university’s honor code.

UNCG Senior Allison Jaynes was cited for holding “a free speech rally in a non-free speech area and refusing to move when given a directive from an official,” according to the allegation.

Jaynes’ hearing is set for Jan. 20, she said.

Another student, Robert Sinnott, was also charged, according to a release last month from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Elizabeth City State University was the only school in the UNC system not criticized in the report, which called on it to review the campus policies.

Leslie Winner, vice president and general counsel for the system, said the report will be examined carefully.

“Open debate and free dialogue are hallmark values of the university system, and we very, very rarely get any complaints that anyone feels their free speech rights are being infringed,” Winner said.

“We do have time, place and manner restrictions that say you can’t have your protest on the classroom steps when people are trying to get in, but it never means you can’t have your protest.”

She questioned the need for the report and called it “a clear case of smoke with no fire.”

Schools: University of North Carolina – Wilmington University of North Carolina – Greensboro University of North Carolina – Pembroke University of North Carolina – Charlotte University of North Carolina School of the Arts Cases: University of North Carolina System: State of the First Amendment University of North Carolina at Greensboro: Punishment of Free Speech Protestors