Just last month, ADF announced the repeal of a speech zone at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. Chemeketa had told a Christian student that he could not hold pro-life signs in the open, park-like areas of campus. Instead, college policy limited student speech to a small folding table in the student center. Chemeketa also required students to request use of the folding table a week in advance of their expected activity. ADF wrote to Chemeketa, informed it of controlling constitutional principles, and asked it to open its campus to free speech. Thankfully, Chemeketa did the right thing and worked with us to revise its speech policies. Now students may engage in free speech outside in the campus quads, where most students walk to and from class. (Students can still reserve the folding table if they want to.) The marketplace of ideas is in business once again.
But today, I read that students in Ohio are suing the University of Cincinnati over a similar speech zone. According to the complaint, the zone where students may speak freely is 10,000 square feet, which sounds really big until you put that into perspective. In fact, the speech zone occupies a mere 0.1% of the campus. It’s also in a low foot-traffic area and must be reserved 10 days in advance. Sound familiar?
I’m waiting for the day when universities stop limiting student speech to small zones on campus and start embracing the marketplace of ideas.
Do you have a speech zone at your campus? Let us know!