Ryan Dozier emerged from his Wednesday morning class at Yuba College in central California just in time to hoist an evangelical sign and hand out some tracts to the lunchtime crowd walking across campus. Careful to stay off the main walk, he engaged in friendly conversation and shared his materials only with those students who expressed some interest. A campus policeman approached him, though, and told Ryan he’d need a permit from the college to conduct such an “assembly” – and that he could be arrested and expelled, if he didn’t stop immediately. Shortly afterward, a certified letter from college administrators reiterated the threat, advising Ryan that free speech was only allowed at Yuba on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12 and 1 … with two weeks’ notice in advance.
Before long, Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers had secured a settlement from the college on Ryan’s behalf – abolishing those requirements and dismantling other elements of an unconstitutional speech code that had severely limited free speech and expression on campus.
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Dozier v. Houle
What's at stake
- The freedom of students to share their faith on campus
- The right of students to be free from campus speech zones
Ryan Dozier was a student at Yuba College who wanted to share his faith with his peers. When he tried to hold a Christian sign and hand out tracts on campus, a campus police officer threatened him with arrest because he was outside the campus speech zone.
Even though Ryan Dozier simply wanted to share his faith by handing out tracts and holding a sign with a Bible verse on it, Yuba College refused to let him do so. Yuba College required students to get permission to speak 14 days in advance, and if permission was granted, the college allowed students to speak only from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in a designated speech zone.
When Ryan tried to share his faith outside the speech zone and without getting the required permission, a college police officer threatened him with arrest for trespassing—even though Ryan was a student at the college. A few weeks after being threatened with arrest, Ryan received a letter from the college threatening to expel him if he did not comply with the speech zone policies in the future.
Ryan asked Alliance Defending Freedom to help him regain his right to speak freely on campus. Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on Ryan’s behalf and negotiated a settlement with Yuba College that eliminated the speech zone, opened the campus to student speech throughout the day, and ensured that Ryan could speak freely without fear of arrest.
Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for the rights of students like Ryan Dozier so that they can share their ideas freely in the outdoor areas of college campuses.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom represented Ryan Dozier in a lawsuit against Yuba College, and defended his right to speak freely outdoors on campus.