A conservative activist was instructed to leave the Kendall Campus of Miami Dade College earlier this week after she was told she was on ‘private property’, despite the fact that the school is publicly funded.
Turning Point USA is a student organization that focuses on the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government. Turning Point field representative, Driena Sixto, was on the Florida college’s campus to recruit new student members for the organization.
Sixto told Campus Reform that prior to approaching Sixto asking if Turning Point had permission to be recruiting, the school’s director of student life, Lauren Adamo, had been at another table helping register students to vote.
A video obtained by Campus Reform shows Adamo calling the police while Sixto defends her right to be recruiting on the campus. Sixto explains that because that the school is funded by tax-payer dollars, Constitutional rights apply to everyone on campus. Adamo, still on the phone with campus police, responds to Sixto saying “We have free speech zones”.
“Hi, there’s a woman in the breezeway and she’s not authorized to be here,” Ademo says into her phone.
As Ademo waits for the campus police to arrive, Sixto continues to recruit students by explaining what Turing Point stands for. “We’re against ridiculous free speech zones on public universities, which they are actually trying to enforce here.”
When the campus police do arrive, Sixto tells officers that because she was recruiting on a public sidewalk, she should be free to recruit without university approval. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an administration rule, the school can actually get in trouble for having free speech zones or for removing people from a public area just because they’re not a registered student organization.”
One officer responds by saying “Everyone has rules. Right now you’re gonna have to leave.”
Another officer tells her “We’re not telling you that you can’t do this, but there are procedures.”
At one point, an officer tries to tell Sixto that she is on private property. Sixto, knowing full well that wasn’t the case, corrected the officer. He responded saying “I’m not here to argue whether it’s public or private.”
The university’s Manual of Procedure states that in addition to a mandatory daily table fee of $100, outside organizations must receive approval to table 15 days prior. Administrators can also limit outside organizations to one visit per month and can deny request to table due to “space availability.”
Campus police refused to let Sixto continue recruiting, so she eventually decided to pack up and leave.
“It’s extremely disappointing to learn that Miami Dade College Kendall Campus, an institution that claims to be inclusive of all students and a promoter of different ideas, would unabashedly discriminate against students with a conservative message,” Sixto explained to Campus Reform. “They should know also, that as a public university, everyone in the community has a right to the public facilities offered on campus, including a public sidewalk, even if it’s to express ideas not in line with those of a university administrator.”