Young Americans for Liberty is suing the University of Massachusetts Amherst for prohibiting students from engaging in speeches and rallies on campus during all times of the day except noon to 1 p.m. and on less than one percent of campus.
“The policy at UMass Amherst not only restricts free speech by time and place, but also leaves ‘speech’ and ‘rally’ undefined thereby leaving it to the discretion of university officials,” according to a press release obtained by Red Alert Politics.
Students who violate speech policy at UMass Amherst may face sanctions and even expulsion from the university, according to their Speech Zone Policy.
The federal lawsuit contends that UMass Amherst’s speech restrictions interrupt the marketplace of ideas, which is the purpose of public colleges.
“Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing YAL contend that the policies create a chilling effect on speech, deterring students from engaging in their First Amendment rights,” the release read.
“A public university is hardly the marketplace of ideas that it’s supposed to be when the marketplace is less than one percent of campus and only open for one hour a day—and then only if university officials approve of your presence there,” said Caleb Dalton, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom. “UMass-Amherst’s speech policy contains provisions similar to those that courts have repeatedly struck down as unconstitutional at other schools. If the university wishes to demonstrate its dedication to the free exchange of ideas, it can do so by fixing its policy so that it’s consistent with the First Amendment.”
UMass Amherst holds a “yellow speech code rating,” according to a campus free speech rating system by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Institutions which holds a “yellow light speech code rating” are defined as ones that have “at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application.”
YAL's efforts have restored First Amendment Rights to 633,080 students and revised 30 unconstitutional free speech policies. UMass Amherst may soon be added to that list.
“It is shocking to hear that students can get kicked out of a public tax-payer funded university for exercising their First Amendment rights when these universities should be championing the Constitution,” said Cliff Maloney, president of YAL. “The Constitution does not say the First Amendment only applies during lunch break.”