Yuba College settles, ends two-hour per week ‘free speech’ policy
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom secured a settlement with Yuba Community College Friday on behalf of a student, putting an end to a campus policy that requires students to obtain a permit to exercise "free speech" during two allotted hours per week. Ryan Dozier was threatened with arrest and expulsion if he continued sharing the gospel on campus between classes.
"Christian students shouldn’t have to face jail and expulsion for expressing their beliefs on a public college campus," said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker. "We are pleased that Yuba College officials have finally agreed to recognize that its campus policies cannot strip away the free speech rights of students with religious viewpoints."
ADF attorneys were able to rectify Dozier’s situation, which Young America’s Foundation ranked first on its list of "Academia's Top 10 Abuses of 2008".
Dozier arrived on campus in February to attend class and briefly share a Christian message to fellow students, engaging them through tracts, a sign, and conversation along a walkway. A campus police officer approached Dozier, telling him he needed a permit for such activity and that he would be arrested or face expulsion if he continued.
Dozier later received a certified letter from the college accusing him of "conducting an assembly without a permit" and violating school policy. The letter stated that his activity was the subject of a district police department crime report and that future violation of the directive and Student Code of Conduct would result in further discipline, including expulsion from college.
Prior to the settlement, the college allowed "free speech" only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., with permission required two weeks in advance. The college also had an unconstitutional speech code, which has been corrected as a result of the settlement.
A copy of the consent order filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division, in the lawsuit Dozier v. Houle is available here. ADF-allied attorney Timothy M. Smith, of the Sacramento law firm McKinley and Smith, also represented Dozier in the case.
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom defends religious freedom at America’s public universities. 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.