The College Fix reported that students who want to protest gun-free zones at Montclair State University must receive permission two weeks ahead of time.
No matter how peaceful or satirical their protest was, these are the rules.
MSU’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter isn’t having this.
They filed a federal lawsuit against the New Jersey public university on Thursday, January 16, 2020. The lawsuit declared that three “sets of policies” are unconstitutional.
The first one they cited is the speech permit policy, which prematurely gutted YAL’s September protest against gun-free zones, according to the lawsuit. YAL members wore orange prisoner jumpsuits and waved signs that read “every civilian gun is a threat,” “disarm law abiding citizens” and “criminals for gun free zones.”
The Sergeant of Campus Police Kaluba Chipepo informed the activists that they were in violation of university policy simply because they did not have the requisite permission to speak from MSU administrators. They were instructed to cease their demonstration or their gathering would be “terminated,” as “protests cannot continue.”
According to the lawsuit, the two-week permission requirement falls under a prior restraint on speech, which is an infringement on the First Amendment. The lawsuit also challenges MSU’s student organization regulations, which grants YAL the fewest privileges of any political organization on campus, and its bias response team.
In the lawsuit’s argument, common outdoor areas of MSU constitute traditional public forums. In other words, the university cannot exclude or restrict a student’s speech based on viewpoints. However, MSU policy makes administrators “examine the content and viewpoint of students’ speech in deciding whether to approve, modify, or reject a students’ request to speak.”
Michael Ross, the legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, declared in a press release that the “marketplace of ideas” that public universities supposedly protect “can’t function if officials impose burdensome restraints on speech or if they can selectively enforce those restraints against disfavored groups.” The public interest law firm has taken it upon itself to represent the students.
“Free speech shouldn’t be infringed. We have the right to say what we have to say,” Montclair YAL President Mena Botros, the individual plaintiff, said in a comment to The College Fix.
MSU imposes mandatory student fees for each student but student organizations aren’t treated equally by default. The student government designates student organizations according to a “class” and grants them certain privileges based on the class.
Organizations only qualify for Class I designation if they have “an appeal that reaches the general interest of the entire campus community or … that fosters pride and mobilizes awareness of the interests of a large, distinct, and prolific subculture of the campus community, as deemed by the discretion of the chartering process,” the suit stated, citing language from the regulations.
On the other hand, organizations receive a Class IV or III designation if they meet “the needs of a very specific and unique interest of the campus community” and attract students who “are yet to be specifically represented by a chartered organization.”
At Class I, student organizations obtain funding that comes from student fees. At the lowest level, organizations still have to fundraise but they can receive up to $500 in matching dollars from the student government.
YAL is currently in the lowest tier, Class IV, and is the only political organization in that class, according to the lawsuit. Some of the political organizations within Class III include Animal Activists, the Environmental Club, and YesSheCanCampaign. Justice for Education, a social justice education organization and Femvolution are Class II organizations.
It’s very clear that there is political bias on American campuses across the nation. Liberty conservatives wish MSU’s YAL chapter all the best.
The Left’s domination of college campuses must be countered at all times. If not, all right wing thought on college campuses will be completely displaced.