A student at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California, attempted to commemorate Constitution Day 2013 by handing out copies of the Constitution on campus.
He was approached by campus police and an administrator who told him that because Modesto is a public college, he couldn’t stage a protest unless he was in a designated “free speech area”.
Dean of Students Lee Peters says that’s a common policy at public colleges like Modesto. “Because it’s state property, they have a different way of handling it. There’s usually a free speech area somewhere on campus and the university designates it and if students want to protest something they have to go to that area.”
Because the University of Hartford is a private institution, the rules are different. According to the student handbook, students are allowed to protest anywhere on campus, provided they don’t cause a safety hazard, disrupt classes or use hate speech.
Director of Public Safety John Schmaltz says that the organizing of the protest falls on the student leaders. “We sit down with the student leaders…and we explain this is what the expectations are, and you take it back to the kids that are going to come protest and identify what the rules and regulations are and the ramifications if you overstep the bounds, you know, if you decide to throw your shoe at someone or you’re throwing rotten eggs.”
For more information about the Modesto Junior College settlement, visit http://www.thefire.org/cases/modesto-junior-college-students-barred-from-distributing-constitutions-on-constitution-day/