Education

UMass-Amherst Spikes Speech Zone Policy After Getting Sued

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter

The University of Massachusetts Amherst spiked a speech zone policy that limited “speeches and rallies” to a one-hour block in a space comprising less than one percent of the campus.

Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) dropped its lawsuit against the school Monday after UMass-Amherst voted to approve a new policy on June 20, according to a press release.

“The only permission slip students need to speak on campus is the First Amendment. UMass-Amherst made the right move by eliminating this unconstitutional limit on student speech,” ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton said in a statement. “A public university is hardly the marketplace of ideas it’s supposed to be when less than one percent of campus is open for only one hour a day. We commend [Young Americans for Liberty (YAL)] and these brave students for taking a stand and causing UMass to remove this speech zone that never should have existed in the first place.”

ADF sued the school in January on behalf of YAL and UMass-Amherst student Nicholas Consolini. The plaintiffs contested that the school’s campus speech policy was unconstitutional, citing its failure to define what constituted a “speech” or “rally,” as well as its allowance for sanctions including expulsion should students violate it. (RELATED: DOJ Lays Down The Law On ‘Unconstitutional’ UMich Speech Policies)

“UMass’s old policy restricted expression to a small area during a narrow window of time,” Consolini told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That’s not a free marketplace; it’s first amendment failure. We’re happy that the University finally did the right thing. But they should have listened to the letters and op-eds that were sent urging them to eliminate this policy instead of forcing us to file a lawsuit to finally open our campus to free speech.”

UMass-Amherst did not respond to a request for comment.

Editor’s note: Consolini is a summer 2018 intern for TheDCNF.

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