Officials with an Oregon University repeatedly attempted to prohibit students from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution, saying that doing so was a violation of their campus policy. Officials directed these students to a tiny “free speech zone,” where such activities were allowed.
Many of these students’ encounters with officials were recorded on camera, much to the dismay of the officials, who on multiple occasions told the students to stop recording them. Not only did these students refuse to stop recording, they refused to move to the campus-designated “free speech zone,” arguing that since it was a public university, the entire campus (at least the parts that were freely accessible from the public road) was a free speech zone, protected by the 1st Amendment.
Officials tried to explain that the reason they have designated areas for “free speech” is that people might abuse the freedom and disrupt other students. One asked the students something like, “What if the KKK demonstrated here on campus?” As if wearing white hoodies and burning crosses is the same exact thing as handing out copies of one of our nation’s founding documents.
According to Campus Reform, which obtained video of the incident, the group of four students was distributing copies of the Constitution last Tuesday when they were confronted by administrators at Southern Oregon University.
Footage of the extensive encounter depicts multiple college administrators tell the students that passing out Constitutions in the public area is against school policy and not allowed.
“I would very much like you to leave, if you would, please, because the students have the right to be able to come by here without you guys, you know, invading their space and asking them to do something,” Tim Robitz, director of university housing, told the students.
“We have our free speech zone. I understand that you may not like it, but that’s where it is,” Allyson Beck, the school’s family housing coordinator, also told the students.
The students, affiliated with the group Students for Concealed Carry, refused to comply with the instructions, contending they are unconstitutional.
“Thank you for coming down here and explaining to us the unconstitutional policies here on campus, but we’re not going to move,” one of the students told an administrator.
As far as we know, even though administrators warned the students that the police would have to get involved, the police never showed up, and the students never moved to the “free speech zone.”
Here’s video footage of some of their encounters:
As soon as you designate a tiny area on public property for “free” speech, it ceases to be free.