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Community colleges in Florida seemingly have a lot to answer for when it comes to respecting students’ rights. First, Indian River Community College tried to stop students from showing The Passion of the Christ. Now, Seminole Community College near Orlando has decided that students with a passion for animal rights are equally unwelcome. FIRE’s latest press release will fill you in on the details.
What strikes me about these cases (and, frankly, many FIRE cases) is how innocuous these students’ requests are, and how inflexible and unreasonable colleges can be when it comes to allowing just a little bit of our constitutional rights to seep through to their students. At Seminole, Eliana Campos simply wanted to set up a table and pass out some pamphlets from PETA that decried brutality in slaughterhouses. Many people disagree with PETA’s message and aims (although I think genuine supporters of slaughterhouse brutality are hard to find), but it’s hard to think of a more harmless method of getting that message out than having one lone student sit at a table and pass out brochures. Sometimes it seems like all it would take to eliminate a lot of these controversies is a sense of proportion among college administrators, coupled with a little respect for our basic American freedoms.

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