At Clemson University, A Win for Free Speech Against Homosexuality

Excerpted from Clemson Exonerates Student Group, Will Review Policy on ‘Free-Speech Zones’, by Jim Brown and Jody Brown, published Dec 4, 2006, by Agape Press:

There’s been a major First Amendment victory for students at a prestigious university in South Carolina, where a conservative student group has been absolved of charges stemming from its protest of a pro-homosexual event on campus.

Clemson University had a policy that designated only two areas on the campus for students to assemble. Even within those areas, students were required to obtain permission from three different administrative offices 72 hours prior to any planned event. However, after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a letter to the school, arguing the policy — in violation of the U.S. Constitution — made spontaneous demonstrations impossible, Clemson set aside the policy for review and is allowing the entire campus to be open to free speech.

Samantha Harris, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy, explains that a student group known as the Clemson Conservatives had been charged with a violation of the “free-speech zone” policy for protesting a pro-homosexual “marriage” event staged by the Clemson Gay-Straight Alliance. In late October the conservative group had requested, but was denied, permission to stage their protest at a location outside one of the zones — then proceeded with the protest nonetheless.

According to a FIRE press release, campus police did not interrupt the protest, but deployed police officers to videotape the event. Subsequently the university’s Office of Judicial Conduct found Clemson Conservatives guilty of staging a protest in a “non-designated area” and administered an “admonition” and “censure” sentence, along with a warning to the group that
further transgressions of the policy could result in suspension.

The Clemson Conservatives appealed to FIRE for assistance. Now, since FIRE’s letter to the school in early November, Clemson has expunged the charges from the group’s record.

Harris says “so-called ‘free-speech zones'” are “odd and highly inappropriate” on America’s university campuses these days — but that, unfortunately, such policies are all too common. “I think that in a lot of cases it’s kind of a misguided attempt by universities to make sure that
demonstrations and the like don’t disrupt classes, et cetera,” she says, “but of course, you could accomplish that aim with a much, much narrower policy.”

This article was posted on Tuesday, December 5th, 2006 at 12:36 pm and is filed under Christian Persecution, Universities & Colleges. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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