Officials and campus cops at Southern Oregon University threatened to call the police on a group of four students who were distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the designated “free speech zone” last week.
The Constitution kerfuffle occurred last Tuesday at the obscure public school in the middle of nowhere, Campus Reform reports.
The students, all affiliated with Students for Concealed Carry, ironically were also gathering signatures for a petition to end the taxpayer-funded school’s restrictive speech policies.
Administrators and school police officers didn’t like it. The four students say they were followed by bureaucrats and cops and threatened with punishment.
There’s video. (See below.)
“I would very much like you to leave, if you would, please, because the students have the right to be able to come by here without you guys, you know, invading their space and asking them to do something,” Tim Robitz, director of university housing, says in the video clip.
Robitz also urged the students to defend the school’s speech policies — out of a sense of fair play, see.
“Well, I just think if you’re going to ask someone to sign a petition, it’s always helpful if you’re explaining both sides of the petition — why the policy exists is certainly useful as opposed to saying ‘we want this,'” Robitz argues in the video.
Robitz also explained that allowing free speech under the First Amendment would likely lead to more free speech, which he and his fellow bureaucrats might not be able to cope with.
“When you open it up to free speech that means anyone, anywhere can come on here and do that and that might create some other challenges for this campus that we’re not prepared to manage,” he can be heard advising the students.
Allyson Beck, the publicly-financed school’s family housing coordinator, also had her say.
“We have our free speech zone,” Beck explained. “I understand that you may not like it, but that’s where it is.”
One of the students, Stephanie Keaveney, suggested that school officials treated her and her three peers differently because of their association with Students for Concealed Carry.
“Administrators accused us of causing an immediate panic for the safety of students in the face of gun violence, or the promotion of such,” she told Campus Reform.
The incident is one among a stream of instances of public colleges and universities censoring the distribution of copies of the Constitution.
In the spring, for example, two students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo sued after officials prevented them from distributing copies of the Constitution at a Young Americans for Liberty recruitment event. (RELATED: University of Hawaii at Hilo Sued Over Constitution Fracas)