Sunday, March 30, 2014

Purdue University Students Challenge Dean of Students Over Free Speech in Stand-Off With Campus Police

RELATED VIDEO: Don't Cage My Speech! A student at the University of Cincinnati sued and the federal court overturned a policy that Purdue continues to try to enforce even though it was ruled unconstitutional.

A handful of Purdue University Students schooled the Dean of Students and three university police officers on the Constitution last week after their first amendment rights were reportedly threatened.

At issue was a display sponsored by the Purdue Chapter of Students for Life entitled, "What Has Roe Done For Us."  Students had reserved space near the Class of 1950 memorial for the display; however, it had not been pre-approved by the Dean of Students. 

University policy states that students must complete an Event Planning Form two weeks in advance and that all events and displays are subject to approval; however, students had only learned that the national organizaiton would be in the area to provide the display a week earlier so were not able to provide two weeks notice.
Purdue students were ordered to remove this display.

Shortly after the students had arrived a campus police officer informed them that someone had complained about their display and since they did not have pre-approval from they Dean of Students they would have to leave.  The students refused and the officer left the scene.

The students phoned attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom organization for advice and were told they had every right to display their placards and that the pre-approval policy was unconstitutional and an infrigement on their first amendment rights to free speech.

A second officer arrived on the scene and reiterated the order the leave, only this time they were threatened with confiscation of the display.  Students remained firm and told the officer they had spoken with the national organization's attorney who advised them they were within their constitutional rights to continue with what they were doing. 

The Dean of Students soon arrived on the scene as did a third campus police officer.  Once again they were ordered to disband.  Students offered to have their attorney speak with them about the matter; however, they reportedly said they were not interested in doing so.  After consulting with university officials for about an hour, the officer told the students to have a nice day and left them alone; however, students do not believe the matter of free speech is over.
"As long as there is an unconstitutional policy in place, the matter will not be resolved," said one student who supported the display.
The students from the Students for Life organization have not been the first ones from Purdue to complain about the policy. 

Last fall, in an article entitled, Purdue's Policies Supress Free Speech, from The Purdue Review the writer lamented the fact that Purdue continues to require students to conduct their speech in a controversial "Free Speech Zone" after receiving prior approval even after federal courts have ruled this practice to be unconstitutional.
The writer stated that "arguably the most outrageous policy on the books creates a Free Speech Zone here on campus," which limits students free speech rights to a small area south of the flagpole on Purdue Memorial Mall.
"While this may seem like an innocent attempt to keep order, by creating a zone in which students are allowed to express themselves freely the university grants itself the power to control where students exercise their First Amendment rights," the author from The Review wrote.
"Contrasingly, the First Amendment states that there shall be no law which minimizes one's right to free speech," the writer continued.
This issue was  addressed in federal court after students from the University of Cincinnati sued the public university for violating their right to gather signatures on campus for a time-sensitive, statewide right-to-work ballot initiative.  The university had a similar policy as that of Purdue's wherein students were required to get prior approval before holding an event.  Both universities also required that students conduct their speech in designated areas.

The federal court struck down the Unviersity of Cincinnati's unconstitutional policy and declared that the free speech rights of the students had been violated.

Because this case received widespread public attention, it is unclear why Purdue has not amended its unconstitutional policy; however, they may soon be forced to do so if they continue to attempt to violate the free speech rights of students. 

A video about the Cincinnati case has gone viral across the nation and is included for our readers' consideration at the beginning of this article.

1 comment:

  1. It's time for Purdue to understand that in this country the "FREE SPEECH ZONE" basically runs between "SEA TO SHINIG SEA" right across the "AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN" in Tippecanoe County IN. I really hope the Purdue Dean of Students doesn't need to (re)learn this lesson the expensive and embarrassing way.