Legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to the University of Wisconsin at River Falls this week informing administrators they can avoid a lawsuit by revising a policy to allow students to speak in public outdoor areas on campus without prior permission (emphasis added):
On Sept. 6, 2019, freshman Sofie Salmon walked around UW–River Falls’s campus to recruit members to start a conservative club on campus. Accompanied by a couple of friends, she rolled an oversized beach ball—a “free speech ball”—along with her so that fellow students could express themselves by writing messages on it. Even though Salmon did not block any sidewalks, hinder instruction, or disrupt the campus educational environment, a school administrator told Salmon she must reserve a space for her expression, limit her speech to a public sidewalk on the edge of campus, or risk an encounter with campus police.
The video clip below shows a university administrator telling the student she’s violating school policies but can’t cite the policies. She tells the student she must pay a reservation fee or speak only on the public sidewalk at the edge of campus, or the police will get involved. The student gathered her things and left the area.
In the letter (PDF) to the university dated February 10, ADF stated that the student tried to find the relevant policies but couldn’t, and officials didn’t reply to her emails about the policies.
ADF wrote that “potentially-applicable policies we were able to find were not easily accessible by students through typical search terms on your website. In addition, the policies are vague and as applied to Sofie are unconstitutional.”
The student and ADF will await the university’s response. If administrators insist on keeping policies that violate students’ rights, the school could end up in federal court answering for their actions.