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The Weekly Digest: “College Campuses Are Not Free Speech Areas,” Says Fresno State Prof

By James Arnold posted on:
October 17, 2017

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“College Campuses Are Not Free Speech Areas,” Says Fresno State Prof


At Fresno State University, a Students for Life chapter displayed sidewalk chalk messages that affirmed life.

The group had permission. The group had followed all of the guidelines and rules the university had put into place.

Yet a professor still confronted them and had students join him in erasing the sidewalk messages.

You can watch the video of the encounter here:





As you can see in the video, the professor's view of free speech is rather limited. On multiple occasions he refers to the "free speech area" (which, by the way, the university eliminated in June 2015). At one point, he even blatantly says "College campuses are not free speech areas."

Except that's not true at all. The only "permission" for free speech on college campuses that any student needs is the First Amendment.

Here's what ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham had to say:

"No university professor has the authority to roam the campus, silencing any student speech he happens to find objectionable and recruiting students to participate in this censorship. Like all government officials, professors have an obligation to respect students’ free speech rights. And they should encourage all students to participate in the marketplace of ideas, rather than silencing those with whom they happen to differ. The professor’s actions here represent a flagrant violation of the First Amendment."

Indeed. The professor could have encouraged speech on both sides of the issue by hosting a debate in his class on the issue. But he chose instead to censor the speech of these students, something that the First Amendment forbids.

ADF has filed a lawsuit against the professor in order to defend the free speech rights of all students at Fresno State University. As Sarah Kramer points out at the ADF blog, a student's constitutional rights "do not change based on the whim of one professor."

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James Arnold

James Arnold

News and Research Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.

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