The University of North Texas grants students campus wide free speech

October 24, 2009

The University of North Texas had six designated free speech zones, where students were allowed to demonstrate, protest, preach or otherwise express an opinion or point of view. reported that that has all changed.

Ay first, it didn’t appear that this was going to happen. The UNT Free Speech Coalition brought a list of demands to University President Gretchen Bataille in July. Bataille said that she wouldn’t negotiate with people who brought  demands, and that she didn’t like the tone of the people she was meeting with. Even so, she expressed willingness to discuss the issue at some later dates, and said she had already been asking about changing the policy.

On September 9, William Creeley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote a letter to the university, saying that the UNT didn’t provide enough space for free speech. In 2004, the foundation sued Texas Tech University, which provided only a single gazebo for free speech. A federal court ruled that Tech was violating the student’s first amendment rights. In his letter, Greeley said that UNT fell under the precedent set by the Tech case. Greeley said that very shortly after receiving the letter, the UNT General Counsel said that within 45 days the policy would change.

TCU is one of the very few major Texas universities which still restrict free speech to designated areas.  It is not yet known whether the TCU students will challenge the restrictions.

After approving the change, Bataille said "Basically the campus is now a free speech area. We do not restrict free speech. We have done away with the zones."

Schools: University of North Texas