Lone Star College: Student Group Threatened with Probation and Derecognition for Posting Flyer
The Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) were among a variety of student organizations distributing flyers at Lone Star College - Tomball during an event for student groups to recruit new members. YCT's flyer included a satirical list of "Top Ten Gun Safety Tips" including, "If your gun misfires, never look down the barrel to inspect it." Program Manager for Student Activities Shannon Marino reportedly told the YCT Chairman that the flyer was inappropriate and confiscated the flyers. Comer appealed to Dean of Student Development E. Edward Albracht, but Albracht also said the flyer was inappropriate and invoked the prior year's shootings at Virginia Tech. Marino informed Comer that the school's legal department would be reviewing YCT's flyers and that afterward, the school might disband YCT or put the group on probation for the year. FIRE contacted the Lone Star administration about its violations of YCT's rights. Brian S. Nelson, General Counsel for the Lone Star College System. replied that any "mention of firearms and weapons" is inherently a "material interference with the operation of the school or the rights of others" because such language "brings fear and concern to students, faculty and staff." Nevertheless, YCT was allowed to remain a student organization without any disciplinary consequences.
- "FIRE Launches New Video Series With Short Film on Censorship of Gun-Related Speech," June 30, 2010: Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is proud to release a new short film, "Empty Holsters: Gun Speech on America's Campuses," highlighting widespread campus censorship of student speech about guns. The film is the first in a new FIRE series focusing on how colleges and universities across America are preventing students and faculty members from speaking out on the weightiest political issues of the day.
- "“Top Ten Gun Safety Tips” Censored at Lone Star College in Texas," October 20, 2008: After distributing a jocular flyer listing "Top Ten Gun Safety Tips" at the school's "club rush," a student group was threatened with probation and derecognition at Lone Star College–Tomball, a public college near Houston. After college officials banned the Young Conservatives of Texas from distributing the flyer, the school's general counsel invoked the specter of the Virginia Tech shootings, suggesting that even a "mention of firearms and weapons" is inherently a "material interference" with the school's operations. The group has turned to FIRE for help.
- "Response to FIRE from Lone Star College System General Counsel Brian Nelson," October 14, 2008
- "FIRE Letter to Lone Star College-Tomball President Raymond Hawkins," September 26, 2008
- "Young Conservatives of Texas' flyer on 'Top Ten Gun Safety Tips'," September 14, 2008
- "Jefferson ‘Muzzle’ Awards for Censorship Given to Two Colleges Involved in FIRE Cases," by Robert Shibley, April 7, 2009
- "Speech Code of the Month: Lone Star College," by Samantha Harris, December 1, 2008: FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for December 2008: Lone Star College in Texas. FIRE recently addressed the suppression of free speech at one of the colleges in the Lone Star College System, when Lone Star College–Tomball censored a student group for distributing a jocular flyer listing "Top Ten Gun Safety Tips." Now, FIRE has learned that the Lone Star College System maintains speech codes that threaten free expression at all five of the system's campuses. The most vague and overbroad of these policies, found in the system-wide Student Code of Conduct, prohibits any "vulgar expression" on any Lone Star College campus, including in electronic communications. This policy is unconstitutionally vague; students have no way of knowing what exactly is prohibited, since what is "vulgar" depends entirely on who is hearing or viewing the expression in question. It is also overbroad, explicitly prohibiting speech and expression such as the kinds of "vulgar" satire, parody, and social commentary that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held are protected by the First Amendment.
- "Stop Invoking Virginia Tech to Punish Protected Speech," by Adam Kissel, November 24, 2008
- "Does Lone Star College–Tomball Really Fear the Word ‘Gun’?," by Adam Kissel, November 12, 2008
- "Victory at Temple College Explained in Today’s Podcast," November 10, 2008
- "‘Top Ten Gun Safety Tips’ Censored at Lone Star College in Texas," by Adam Kissel, October 20, 2008
- "Why can't students say 'guns' in school?,"
by Glenn Garvin, Miami Herald, April 21, 2009
- "Big gun on campus,"
by Garry Reed, Examiner.com, November 10, 2008
- "College threatens students for even discussing guns,"
WorldNetDaily, October 26, 2008
- "Top one reason to censor unfunny lists,"
by Richard Connelly, Houston Press, October 23, 2008