“Whether or not the ideas are popular opinion, students should still be allowed to speak freely and not check to make sure they’re within the free speech zone…”
Kevin Shaw, a student at Pierce College, has sued the school after he said he was barred from handing out copies of the United States Constitution outside of the college’s designated free speech zone. The college actually maintains an area about the size of three parking spaces where students can exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech. It’s a whole process for students to secure the area because they have to submit paperwork to receive passes, and there are only a few given out at one time. Shaw says that at the time, there were no spots available for him to exercise his free speech rights.
He and a few other students were stopped back in November while they were handing out Spanish language copies of the Constitution and talking with other students about their rights. Since they were outside of the free speech zone, the students were violating school policy. Shaw is suing the school for violating his civil rights by restricting his speech.
This is a pretty weird policy for an institution of higher learning, in my opinion. While I agree that there should be a certain amount of decorum while exercising freedom of speech at a college, it shouldn’t be restricted to a small space. Students who are peacefully exercising their constitutional rights shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to be able to do so. It seems like colleges across the United States have been doing more to limit what students are doing and saying, from canceling speakers they don’t agree with to creating safe spaces.
College is a place where adults go to develop their knowledge and share ideas. Whether or not the ideas are popular opinion, students should still be allowed to speak freely and not check to make sure they’re within the free speech zone. To me, even having a designated free speech zone implies that there’s something wrong with speaking opinions on campus and that students will face consequences for speaking. When did everything get so caught up in political correctness? Where was the free speech zone when rioters were tearing up Berkeley? I would hardly call handing out copies of the United States Constitution disruptive to the learning environment.
In any case, I’m sure this has become normal for many colleges and universities across the United States. Especially with the current political climate, there seem to be quite a few headlines coming out of the woodwork where teachers are pushing their own political agendas—not only in colleges, but even as far as elementary and middle schools. Teachers are getting caught up in pushing anti-Trump ideas. Those areas should be given more attention and regulated. I don’t think colleges need this type of policing. All of the students are adults and are perfectly capable of handling the exchange of ideas and dialogue without the establishment telling them where to speak and where to think. That’s completely counterproductive to those who are paying large sums of money to attend these schools.
Angelina Newsom is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. She has ten years experience in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She studies Criminal Justice and is still active within the military community.
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