BLOGCalifornia University Agrees to Revise Unconstitutional Speech Policy and Allow All Viewpoints

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | February 28, 2017

For a university that claims it “strives to promote understanding of and respect for diversity,” California State University-Los Angeles (CSULA) sure missed the mark last May when a mob of students and professors blocked access to a speech hosted by a conservative student group.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, ironically, was scheduled to give a presentation on “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.” 

Thankfully, responding to an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit, CSULA officials have acknowledged the problems with their speech policies and practices on campus. They have agreed to revise their policies and practices so that they will no longer be used to discriminate against certain viewpoints.

The events that took place on the CSULA campus in February 2016 are a great illustration of what happens when university officials decide which viewpoints are allowed on campus.

When the CSULA Young Americans for Freedom first began advertising their free speech event last year, they received threatening messages from both students and faculty – one professor even challenged the students to a fight.

Because of this response, university officials decided to charge YAF over $600 in security fees because it considered the event “controversial.” ADF sent a letter on YAF’s behalf asking them not to charge the security fees, which are unconstitutional. University officials waived the fee, but then cancelled the event because they disagreed with Shapiro’s viewpoint. However, YAF decided to still move forward with the event as planned.

Before the event, students and even faculty poured in the student union and blocked students from entering the event. CSULA President William Covino told campus police to allow the protestors to block access to the event, in violation of California law and university policy, rather than moving the protestors somewhere else they could safely express their message without blocking other students from attending the event.

Does all that sound like a respect for diversity was being promoted?

“Last year’s near-riot at Cal State L.A. was a travesty with regard to free speech,” Shapiro said. “I’m excited that we were able to come to an agreement with them to protect free speech in the future, and I look forward to coming to the campus soon to speak again. Hopefully this time, we can have an honest, open, and productive discussion rather than violence and chaos from those who disagree.”

Viewpoint discrimination continues to be an issue on America’s university campuses. Instead of encouraging and promoting different viewpoints, university officials are silencing viewpoints they don’t like.

The good news is that when policies and actions like those at CSULA are challenged, they do not stand – the Constitution still applies to students whether university officials like their views or not. And ADF will continue to defend these constitutional rights.

To stay up to date on cases like this and other ADF cases involving freedom of speech, sign up for our newsletter. 


Sign Up Now

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

More from ADF View All

Banned from the Farmer’s Market Because of a Facebook Post

Banned from the Farmer’s Market Because of a Facebook Post

For years, they sold their produce at a farmer’s market in East Lansing, Mich...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 04/11/2019 17:30:15 Read More

This Professor Was Punished for Expressing His Views, But His Voice Is Desperately Needed

This Professor Was Punished for Expressing His Views, But His Voice Is Desperately Needed

Looking back on my life, I only wish Dr. Josephson would have been my doctor ...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 04/17/2019 16:15:03 Read More

California Is Not the Only Place Targeting Its Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

Sanctity of Life

California Is Not the Only Place Targeting Its Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

The California law that ADF challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court last year is...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 04/18/2019 21:45:10 Read More

3 of Thomas Jefferson’s Principles We Should All Take to Heart

3 of Thomas Jefferson’s Principles We Should All Take to Heart

Like Jefferson, we must be firmly rooted in coherent principles, not just bli...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 04/12/2019 21:35:29 Read More