Campus free speech zones under fire

A Philadelphia college free speech organization is leading a challenge of “free speech zones” that they say unconstitutionally limits student speech. Colleges routinely adopt rules that establish the zones they say are needed to contain protests and isolate outside provocateurs. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) think the zones unnecessarily restrict free speech. (U.S.News & World Report, March 28, 2017, by Collin Binkley of the Associated Press)

A California student is suing Pierce College for stopping him from distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the free speech zone last fall. (Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2017, by Teresa Watanabe)

State legislators have begun to consider bills that abolish free speech zones, and the Goldwater Institute has released a model free speech bill for colleges, endorsed in the main by FIRE, that would eliminate free speech zones and protect controversial speakers, but Alex Kotch in AlterNet, March 18, 2017, warns that the Goldwater bill places  harsh penalties on protesters and demonstrators. The model bill provides for sanctions on those infringing on the rights of other students to engage in expression and states any student doing the infringing twice could be suspended for a minimum of one year or expelled.