FREE SPEECH — Southwestern College (SWC) limits free expression on its San Diego
campus to a single free speech patio and has proposed a new policy
that unconstitutionally restricts expression, according to letters
released yesterday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the
American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The
deadline for input on the new policy is tomorrow, May 15.
The new proposals embrace the idea that the campus is largely a public
forum for speech. However, as detailed in the letters sent by ACLU and
FIRE, the proposals still present serious constitutional problems:
They would authorize unconstitutional censorship of certain speech and
illegally compel speakers to disclaim authority to speak for the
college whenever they mention the colleges name.
They would improperly require advance registration for demonstrations
and events that have no impact on campus traffic or security.
Even if registration is appropriate in some cases, they would require
registration too far in advance and fail to allow for spontaneous
demonstrations in response to breaking events.
Finally, they would wrongly require persons distributing literature to
be responsible for cleaning up litter caused by others.
These proposals are a step forward, but if adopted as written, they
would still violate the fundamental right to freedom of speech, said
David Blair-Loy, legal director for ACLU of San Diego & Imperial
Counties. The college needs to repeal its existing policy now and
promptly adopt valid policies to avoid litigation.