Virginia Ditches ‘Free-Speech Zones’ at State Universities

April 9, 2014

By Andrew Johnson at National Review Online

Students at Virginia’s public universities will be free to express their views throughout campus after the state became the first to stamp out “free speech zones” on public-university grounds.

Under the new law, all outdoor areas on campus will be open to serve as public forums, with the usual restrictions on time, place, and manner.

“Free-speech zones” have been a cause for controversy, as students have to get approval from the university administration ahead of time to use the allocated areas for demonstrations or advocacy events. Opponents of the zones argue that it allows the university to restrict certain initiatives and student groups from promoting their causes.

In a statement, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education applauded Virginia lawmakers and Governor Terry McAuliffe for opening up campuses under the name of the First Amendment.

“One in six public colleges in the United States unjustly restricts student speech with free speech zones,” the group said. “Thanks to this new law, public institutions in Virginia will no longer be among them.”