Right about now, the Campus Libertarians at Colorado State University are holding a rally in support of free speech on campus. As we announced in a press release today, Colorado State’s general counsel recently “clarified” that the university’s “Peaceful Assembly at CSU” policy does not actually restrict free expression on campus to one small free speech zone. After we were contacted by a group of concerned CSU students, FIRE wrote to CSU on March 12 to urge the university to revise several unconstitutional policies, including the Peaceful Assembly policy, which provided that “The Lory Student Center Plaza has been designated as the ‘Public Forum’ space for Colorado State University.” As you can see from this satellite photograph, the Lory Student Center Plaza takes up only a minute portion of Colorado State’s large campus (in the photo, the Lory Student Center Plaza is outlined in red.) Loretta Martinez, Colorado State’s general counsel, responded that the policy had actually been revised in 2003 to state that the Lory Student Center Plaza was the primary, but not the exclusive, forum for free assembly on campus, but that an outdated version of the policy had still been posted on the university’s website. That’s right, in March 2007 the website still contained a policy that apparently had been revised four years ago.
In any event, as Martinez promised, the revised version of the policy is now available on the university’s website. Martinez also stated that although the policy allows students to reserve the plaza 14 days in advance, advance reservation is not necessary, and that students “may spontaneously speak and express themselves” on the plaza as well as at numerous other locations across campus. To celebrate this newfound freedom, and to urge the university to revise other unconstitutional policies, the Campus Libertarians are holding an unscheduled rally on the west lawn of the Student Center, an area outside of the designated “Public Forum space.”
This welcome change at Colorado State is an excellent example of how students can effect change by standing up and fighting for their rights. CSU’s Campus Libertarians plan to keep up the fight for free speech at CSU, and we at FIRE urge students at campuses across the country to do the same.