In response to an Alliance Defense Fund-backed lawsuit, Yuba Community College District in California has decided to drop disciplinary actions against a Christian student who had proselytized on campus without a permit. As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports,
“The plaintiff in the case, Ryan Dozier, had been preaching Christian beliefs in a Yuba College walkway last February when the campus police stopped him and told him he needed a permit. He later received a letter accusing him of violating college policy and telling him he faced expulsion if he engaged in future infractions.”
Prior to the agreement reached with ADF, the District had a speech code which “limited” the zones on campus in which “the students of the District and members of the community shall be permitted to exercise their rights of free expression.”
According to the student policy, AP 5550, prior to the settlement, “The colleges and campuses of the District are non-public forums, except for the areas designated by the Chancellor as designated public forums, which are generally available to the community and students” limited to certain defined sections of Clear Lake Campus, Woodland Community College, and Yuba College.
In 2008, afer handing out tracts and engaging passersby with a Christian message, Dozier was approached by a campus police officer “telling him he needed a permit for such activity and that he would be arrested or face expulsion if he continued,” according to the ADF press release. They continue,
“Dozier later received a certified letter from the college accusing him of the ‘conducting an assembly without a permit’ and violating school policy. The letter stated that his activity was the subject of a district police department crime report and that future violation of the directive and Student Code of Conduct would result in further discipline, including expulsion from college…
“Prior to the settlement, the college allowed ‘free speech’ only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., with permission required two weeks in advance. The college also had an unconstitutional speech code, which has been corrected as a result of the settlement.”
It is a wonder how standing alone on the street constitutes “assembly.” Dozier later sued the school for unlawfully limiting free speech.
Dozier’s case was listed as the first of the Young America’s Foundation’s “Academia’s Top Ten Abuses for 2008,” along with
2. The University of St. Thomas’ initial attempts to censor “the appearance of prominent pro-life speaker Star Parker” after inviting a transgendered activist who believes “God is a black lesbian.”
3. West Point instructor Judy Rosenstein’s decision to host a transgendered speaker (a former cadet) to speak to her class on Social Inequality.
4. Electoral shenanigans surrounding a Columbia University poll on whether to “support the return of the Navy’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) to campus after a 40-year absence.”
5. Deerfield High’s decision to require students to read Angels in America for its Advanced Placement English class.
6. California’s College of Alameda’s decision to expel two students for praying with their professor. “The students were surprised by Piazza’s intimidating behavior, but they were stunned when, three days before Christmas, both received letters notifying them of the college’s retroactive ‘intent to suspend’ them,” stated the California Catholic Daily.
7. University of California-Riverside professor Michelle Raheja’s ire at a Pilgrims and Indians kindergarten school play.
8. Florida Gulf Coast University initially dropped its festive décor and Christmas cards this year in order to better respect each religious tradition.
9. UC Berkeley’s Chair complained that environmental activists opposing the construction of a new sports facility were hurting the schools ability to attract minority students; and
10. The College of St. Catherine at St. Paul’s refusal to allow Bay Buchanan to speak on campus.
One might add to the tentative 2009 list the relegation of student protests to “free speech zones” during Bill Ayer’s visit to the Florida State University campus this January.
Doug Blackburn wrote for Tallahassee.com that even Ayers disapproved of this censorship, where “Two young men dressed as Osama Bin Laden and Timothy McVeigh attempted to distribute fliers outside the student union from ‘the terrorist community.’…they were escorted by FSU police to a designated ‘free-speech zone’ at least 100 yards away on Landis Green.”
“The lone person to voice dissent during Ayers’ 30-minute talk on educational reform was quickly escorted out of the nearly packed ballroom by university police.”
A lot has changed since the 1960s.
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.