Valdosta State University: Freedom of Expression on Campus Limited to Unconstitutional Free Speech Zone
Valdosta State University (VSU) President Patrick J. Schloss announced that VSU would rescind its unconstitutional policy that had restricted campus speech to a "free speech zone," a move that prompted FIRE to remove VSU from its Red Alert list. VSU's previous policy restricted the free expression of all "persons wishing to speak on campus" to one small stage, the use of which was restricted to two non-consecutive hours per day-and only on weekdays. FIRE wrote former VSU President Ronald Zaccari to inform him that VSU "cannot lawfully quarantine free expression to just one area of the school's 168-acre campus." FIRE then wrote two additional letters to VSU, produced a short film, and bought an advertisement in the 2009 edition of U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges issue, noting its placement on the Red Alert list. President Schloss announced in a letter to FIRE that VSU's General Public Forum Venue policy had been changed to comply with the First Amendment.
- "Facilities Reservation Policies for Nonregistered Student Groups, August 2012," August 1, 2012
- "FIRE in Action: Valdosta State University," January 19, 2009: This short film highlights FIRE's fight against Valdosta State University's (VSU's) unconstitutional free speech zone policy and chronicles FIRE's victory on behalf of VSU student T. Hayden Barnes, who was expelled for engaging in a peaceful protest. Featuring on-the-scene interviews with Barnes; his attorney, noted First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere; and FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, this video illustrates the impact of FIRE's work and explains why VSU remains a priority in FIRE's fight for student rights on campus.
- "Victory for Free Speech at Valdosta State University," September 17, 2008: In a welcome reversal, Valdosta State University (VSU) has revoked its unconstitutional free speech zone policy, restoring free expression to the vast majority of VSU's campus. Newly installed VSU President Patrick J. Schloss announced the new policy in a letter to FIRE. The change comes in response to months of pressure from FIRE and removes VSU from FIRE's Red Alert list, a distinction reserved for institutions demonstrating a severe and ongoing disregard for the fundamental rights of students or faculty members.
- "VSU Free Expression Area Guidelines," September 11, 2008
- "Letter to FIRE from Valdosta State University President Patrick Schloss," September 11, 2008
- "FIRE Exposes Unrepentant Abusers of Liberty in ‘U.S. News’ College Rankings Issue," August 25, 2008: The 2009 edition of U.S. News and World Report's America's Best Colleges issue, released today, includes a full-page advertisement from FIRE highlighting the five colleges and universities that have earned FIRE's Red Alert distinction for being the "worst of the worst" when it comes to liberty on campus. Students should think twice before choosing to attend Red Alert schools, which include Brandeis University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, and Valdosta State University.
- "US News and World Report FIRE ad," August 25, 2008
- "FIRE Letter to Valdosta State University Vice President for Academic Affairs Louis Levy," August 1, 2008
- "Letter from Valdosta Vice President Louis Levy to FIRE," June 27, 2008
- "FIRE Letter to Valdosta State University President Ronald M. Zaccari Regarding VSU's Free Speech Zone," June 13, 2008
- "FIRE Challenges Valdosta State University’s Free Speech Zone in New Video," March 3, 2008: In response to Valdosta State University’s unconstitutional free speech zone policy, FIRE released a short film today explaining VSU’s continued disregard for its students’ rights and chronicling FIRE’s recent victory on behalf of a VSU student expelled for engaging in a peaceful protest.
- "FIRE's Letter to VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari, November 30, 2007," November 30, 2007
- "Barnes Verdict Expected Today," by William Creeley, February 1, 2013
- "Eleventh Circuit Affirms Ruling against Former Valdosta State President in Victory for Student Rights," February 8, 2012
- "Changes in Leadership Give Red Alert Schools Golden Opportunity to Restore Free Speech," by Peter Bonilla, May 19, 2010
- "Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on Valdosta State and the Importance of Free Speech on Campus," by Claire Jenkins, September 26, 2008
- "VSU Student Newspaper Notes University’s Removal from Red Alert List," by Luke Sheahan, September 18, 2008
- "Sierra Club Fails Valdosta State for Free Speech Zone," by Luke Sheahan, September 3, 2008
- "At Valdosta State, New Leadership or More of the Same?," by William Creeley, August 21, 2008
- "For Olympic Free Speech Zones, China Takes Page From American Universities," by William Creeley, July 24, 2008
- "Pressed Again on Free Speech Zone, Valdosta State Finally Responds," by William Creeley, July 3, 2008
- "University System of Georgia Conducting Student Survey on Free Speech Zones," by Samantha Harris, April 18, 2008
- "Valdosta State: Silence on Free Speech Zone," by William Creeley, January 4, 2008
- "In Letter to Valdosta State, FIRE Demands End to Free Speech Zone," by William Creeley, December 3, 2007
- "Red Alert: Valdosta State University," by William Creeley, November 27, 2007: By acting with brazen and callous disregard for the constitutional rights of former student T. Hayden Barnes, Valdosta State University (VSU) has earned the dubious distinction of being placed on FIRE’s Red Alert list. VSU becomes the first public university to be placed on Red Alert, joining Johns Hopkins University and Tufts University in representing the “worst of the worst” when it comes to protecting and respecting individual rights on campus. VSU President Ronald M. Zaccari personally ordered Barnes’ expulsion after Barnes engaged in peaceful protest against the proposed construction of a $30 million parking facility. Amazingly, Zaccari deemed Barnes a “clear and present danger,” largely on the basis of a cut-and-paste collage posted on Barnes’ personal page on the popular social networking site Facebook.com.
- "Adding Insult to Injury: Valdosta State’s Shameful Free Speech Zone," by William Creeley, November 19, 2007
- "The campus culture wars in two videos,"
by Greg Lukianoff, The Huffington Post, April 21, 2009
- "Free Speech Policy,"
by Kim Carapucci, WCTV Valdosta, September 18, 2008
- "Policy Changed: VSU reveals new free expression rule; FIRE backs off,"
by Karah-Leigh Hancock, The Spectator, September 17, 2008