America’s colleges and universities are bastions of liberalism and nowhere is this more apparent than when they police their conservative students’ free speech rights.
We have one such case out of the University of South Alabama where a student was told he couldn’t post a Trump-Pence 2016 sign in his dorm window. David Meredith put up the sign on March 3, 2017 but by March 31st, he had been told by his dorm’s community director to remove it. The excuse? That his dorm window sign could be seen as an illegal political endorsement of Trump by the university and was against school rules.
— GOP News Brief 🇺🇸 (@GOPNewsBrief) April 14, 2017
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which helped defend him:
Meredith’s response? Two simple words: “1st amendment.”
Instead of backing down, the community director sparred with Meredith over email, arguing that the dorm was a “federal building” that could not show support for candidates. As Meredith pointed out in the exchange, this would mean that federal buildings couldn’t display the name of the president — and a state university’s dorm is not a federal building. This is not to mention that the campaign ended almost five months before Meredith’s sign went up.
However, all of this was irrelevant. Political speech is protected not only during campaign season, but after the campaign is over. Moreover, as we pointed out in our letter to the University of South Alabama earlier this week (embedded below), 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in no way requires universities to censor students’ political speech. Rather, 501(c)(3) status, at most, requires tax-exempt entities to avoid reasonable appearances that the institution itself is endorsing a particular candidate.
Courts and tax authorities have repeatedly made clear that students are strongly presumed not to speak on behalf of the universities they attend. As stated in our letter, the notion that a sign in a student’s window might be viewed as an endorsement by the institution is absurd:
Under [the university’s] application of the 501(c)(3) policy, a student may display a political sign only where nobody can see it. No person, however unreasonable, could be misled into believing that the University of South Alabama had chosen to make its endorsement, in an election for the highest office in the land, through a solitary sign placed in one of dozens of windows in one of thirty-two dormitory buildings. That the university furnishes living areas to students, at the students’ expense, does not render students’ speech that of the university. A contrary interpretation, untenable at a university of any caliber, would require administrators to police and censor nearly every political expression on campus.
So this kid has a simple sign posted in his window in support of the President and Vice President of the United States and he’s told by his school to remove it. Meanwhile, we have leftist university students across the country RIOTING in opposition of the President and Vice President of the United States and the schools do nothing.
Just another example of the double standard applied to conservatives on college campuses in America.
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What do you think – did the university make the right decision? Tell us in the comments below!
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