Student Sues Public University for Requiring ‘Free Speech Permit’

April 17, 2015

By Bonnie Kristian at The Week

College is a time of learning, making friends, and keeping your damn mouth shut unless you’ve been given permission to speak — or so it seems that may be the case at Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) in Southern California. The school has developed a Byzantine listof requirements for students who want to exercise free speech on campus, even though, as a public school, CPP is legally required to guarantee First Amendment speech rights on its grounds.

“At Cal Poly, students have to wear a free speech badge in the free speech zone and can only get that authorization on weekdays. This is a cartoonish violation of the First Amendment, almost beyond parody,” explains Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The free speech zone is just 0.01 percent of campus space.

FIRE is working with CPP student Nicolas Tomas to sue the school after Tomas was forced to jump through hoops to distribute veganism flyers on campus. “I came to college excited… to also participate in more activism,” Tomas said. “But I soon learned that it was going to be very difficult to share my beliefs with other students at Cal Poly and that was very disappointing to me.”

Schools: California State Polytechnic University – Pomona Cases: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project