Human Rights

Pro-life student helps change college’s free-speech policy


man-silent-tapeTwo months ago, Spencer Anderson filed a lawsuit alleging that his rights were violated when he was required to obtain a permit to speak to other students about the prolife student group that he started, and that the permit only allowed him to use less than 1% of the collage campus to share his ideas with others.  Anderson believed that his right to Freedom of Speech and Free Exercise of Religious were violated as a results of Columbus State Community College’s policy.

A settlement agreement has been reached in the case and a new speech policy has been written.  Under the new Public Use of College Outdoor Areas policy, students do not have to obtain prior permission to express themselves and they are allowed to do so in any outdoor part of the campus that is accessible to the public:

Any person or group may use, without prior notification, any publicly accessible outdoor area of the College’s Columbus campus or Delaware campus except parking lots, garages and driveways…. Use of the general access areas may include speaking, non-verbal expression, distributing literature, displaying signage and circulating petitions. There is no limit to the number of times a month a person or group may access those areas.

According to David Hacker, Senior Legal Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom:

Colleges should be the marketplace of ideas…. Free speech should not be limited to a tiny area on campus, nor should students need permission to hand out fliers. We commend Columbus State Community College for revising its speech policy so that students and the public can freely express themselves peacefully nearly anywhere on campus, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.

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