Free speech is not allowed on the sidewalk at Modesto Junior College in California, and students must represent an official organization if they want to pass out materials or engage in conversation with other students passing by. Even if what they want to distribute is just the U.S. Constitution.
Robert Van Tuinen proved this on September 17, when he tried to give out copies of the Constitution to fellow students in honor of Constitution Day and to drum up interest in starting a Young Americans for Liberty club.
A security officer notified Van Tuinen that students must start an official club to be able to engage in free speech on campus and escorted him to an administrative office, where Van Tuinen was presented with a binder explaining the rules.
Fortunately for Van Tuinen, Modesto Junior College does have a “free speech area,” a “little cement area” where free speech can take place. The administrator told him he was welcome to engage in free speech there. Problem is, two people were already scheduled to exercise their free speech.
But she could pencil him in for October.
According to a FOX News report, Robert Shibley, senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, “said the very idea of speech codes on campus ought to be troubling to Americans.”
“They are imposed in an attempt to sanitize the public space of anything that might offend somebody,” he said. “The fact is, no school specifically needs a speech code. They have the ability to keep order on campus. If people are too loud, harassing people, or blocking traffic, they have the means to address that.”
Hopefully, Young Americans for Liberty will book the “free speech area” well in advance for Constitution Day 2014.
You can watch Modesto Junior College employees explain the “free speech area” in this 4-minute video: