Apr 06, 2017 09:15 AM EDT
Kevin Shaw, a student at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, was reprimanded by an administrator when he tried to distribute copies of the US Constitution in Spanish on the Pierce College campus. He was told that he can only distribute it in a designated area after obtaining a permit. If he was not to comply he would be removed from campus.
Pierce College is a part of the Los Angeles Community College District. Students are allowed to distribute materials in a prescribed location on campuses according to Pierce's free speech policy. Only if they are given permission to do so they may distribute the materials on a 616-square-foot area comprising .003% of Pierce's total campus.
Shaw claimed that his First Amendment rights were violated and has sued LACCD. The lawsuit was filed by Arthur Willner in partnership with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education, an organization that advocates for freedom of speech on college campuses.
USA Today reported, Brynne Madway, an associate attorney at FIRE, said the effect of the free speech zones prevent students from interacting with peers and to be exposed to new ideas. He added that instead of encouraging students to speak with their peers and learn from them, the college is confining them to tiny boxes instead.
Free speech zones are typically located in areas that won't disrupt classes. There are four states that have laws that ban public colleges and universities from establishing free speech zones. According to a survey FIRE conducted of 450 top universities, 1 in 10 had restrictive policies similar to LACCD, said Madway.
Willner said he has seen an increase in restrictions over the past decades. He added that a student hast to fist submit an application for a permit which defeats the purpose of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
A consultant for LACCD, Yusef Robb, said that the LACCD firmly stands behind every student's right to free expression. Shaw hopes the lawsuit will be a learning experience for LACCD to change its policies so that future students can exercise their rights without limitation, LA Times reported.
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