Skip to content

Trashing free speech: Oregon State Univ. piles student paper’s distribution bins next to dumpster

ADF attorneys file suit against university officials after independent newspaper targeted for discrimination

EUGENE, Ore. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Oregon State University officials on behalf of the OSU Students Alliance, a recognized student organization that publishes an independent student paper. The paper, The Liberty, had its distribution bins--containing copies of the latest issue of the paper--confiscated without notice and thrown next to a dumpster by university officials, who claim they did so as part of an effort to beautify the campus. The numerous distribution bins of the other student newspaper, The Daily Barometer, were left untouched.

“Students with viewpoints that don’t happen to be favored by university officials shouldn’t be silenced for their beliefs,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker, of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “The argument that the independent student paper’s bins were confiscated to ‘clean up’ the campus is not believable when none of the bins of the daily student newspaper were taken, and no notice was given to the paper.”

During the Winter 2008-2009 quarter, the administration at Oregon State University removed the distribution bins--containing numerous issues of the latest print run of The Liberty--from campus and piled them in a storage yard near a dumpster without any notice to the paper. The students eventually had to enlist the help of the police to find out what happened to their property.

When questioned, OSU administration claimed that it took The Liberty’s bins in order to beautify the campus and clear it of too many newspaper bins, even though the more numerous distribution bins of the other student publication were left untouched. The university now claims that The Liberty is not a “student publication,” despite the fact that it is wholly written, edited, published, and distributed by OSU students on the OSU campus. The Liberty has been published since 2002 and has been distributed in bins on campus since the 2005-2006 academic year, when they received permission from the university to place their bins on campus. 

The lawsuit, Oregon State University Students Alliance v. Ray,was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Eugene Division. ADF-allied attorney Jonathan A. Clark, of Salem, is serving as local counsel in the case.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.