Today, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) agreed to revise its unconstitutional speech zone policy as a result of an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit.
As a graduate of another Division II school in Michigan, I must confess it was particularly satisfying to see Grand Valley admit their wrongdoing in this case, even if the defeat wasn’t on the football field.
But what is even more satisfying – and of much more significance – is seeing campus-wide free speech being restored at GVSU.
Under the original speech zone policy, the university had a designated area where students could exercise their First Amendment right to free speech – an area that made up 0.02 percent of campus.
So, when two students and members of Turning Point USA started walking around campus and peacefully talking with their fellow students about the First Amendment, they were told they could be arrested for trespassing.
Their crime? Stepping foot outside of the free speech zone. That’s it – these students weren’t even blocking the sidewalk. They were simply talking about their constitutional right to free speech and letting other students write messages on a beach ball – the “free speech ball.”
Oh, the irony.
Unfortunately, the meaning of free speech is completely lost on many college campuses these days. And it keeps happening—university administrators continue to create campus policy that violates students’ basic First Amendment protections.
That’s why ADF filed suit.
“All students should be able to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom to peacefully share their viewpoints with other students,” said Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer. “The policy revisions Grand Valley State officials implemented in the wake of our lawsuit allow this to take place, and we commend them for respecting the First Amendment freedoms of their students rather than engage in prolonged litigation.”
University Officials Cannot Banish Speech to Less than 1 Percent of Campus
Students have every right to engage in free speech on their university campuses, but threats to this right take many different forms. Learn more about what rights students have on campus by clicking on the link below. And if the right to free speech on campus is threatened for you or a student you know, don’t hesitate to contact ADF.