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Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Convert!

You may recall that last week FIRE went to bat and quickly won for Eliana Campos, a student at Florida’s public Seminole Community College who was not allowed to pass out literature from well-known animal rights group PETA. Yesterday’s Daytona Beach News-Journal features a story on this victory for free speech, and apart from summarizing the facts of our intervention, it also features something we don’t see terribly often: an administrator praising the student whose rights were formerly denied. Check it out:

At Seminole Community College, Henningsen commended Campos for making people more aware of free-speech laws. “That took a lot of courage and was a great learning experience,” he said. For Campos, it was reaffirmation. “Everybody should stand up for what they believe in,” she said. So next week, when she resumes classes, she’ll be in the cafeteria, calling attention to her cause.

“Henningsen” in that quotation is James D. Henningsen, SCC’s vice president for student success. He is the man who originally told FIRE Eliana could only pass out her literature in SCC’s tiny “free speech zone,” and he also wrote the letter in which SCC agreed not only to restore Eliana to her rights but also to revisit SCC’s speech policies. Based on that second letter and what he told the News-Journal, Henningsen seems to have learned a valuable lesson about the importance of free speech. Cheers to that! And of course, FIRE will be watching to make sure SCC follows through on its promise.

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