Student Calls Out Longwood University’s Speech Zones
February 21, 2013
At Virginia's Longwood University, student Kramer Anderson has a bone to pick with Longwood's "free speech zone" policy—and with good reason. As Anderson explains in a column for The Rotunda, Longwood's student paper:
The university's current speech codes state, "The open area designated for speeches and demonstrations is the Lankford Mall ... A request for use of this area must be made a minimum of five (5) business days in advance of the event ... Groups or individuals may only use those designated areas once per month and for a maximum period of two days."
Longwood's "Distribution of Written Materials, Outdoor Speeches, Marches and Demonstrations" policy, which Anderson quotes above, can be found in Longwood's current Student Handbook (PDF).
And indeed, this is an unacceptable and laughably unconstitutional restriction on student expression at a public university like Longwood. Anderson is right to call out this policy. He continues:
Why should my first amendment rights be limited to use no more than twice a month behind Lankford Student Union between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.? And that is only if I notify the Office of Conferences and Scheduling no less than five business days in advance. I have personally witnessed, and have anecdotal accounts of, students being removed from Brock Commons for handing out flyers. The mere act of one individual handing out flyers to promote an event violates Longwood's speech codes.
Anderson also points out—as FIRE repeatedly does to universities maintaining unconstitutional free speech zone policies—that such policies have been successfully challenged in court and overturned at numerous universities throughout the country. As Anderson makes quite clear in his op-ed, Longwood should not want to be in their company.