Students’ constitutional rights to free expression at Santa Monica College in California ...
Photo Credit: Mrgates [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Authored By Kara Zupkus
May 24, 2019
Students’ constitutional rights to free expression at Santa Monica College in California are being trampled on by college bureaucrats. YAF has reviewed the student code, and found that administrators limit students’ free expression at their school to just over three hours a week in a so-called “activity hour,” and have established the existence of certain “free speech areas.”
Students at the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Santa Monica College have been planning to bring the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles to speak at an event on May 30. Administrators at the college are currently putting up roadblocks in an attempt to halt the lecture, saying that the event cannot occur outside of the very limiting activity hour.
According to the student handbook, students can only hold events for their student clubs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 11:15 a.m. until 12:35 p.m. Additionally, “Any meeting or event scheduled during these hours by clubs or student associations will require the approval of the faculty advisor and the Dean of Student Life or designee.” Trying to host a conservative speaker outside of this so-called activity hour? Good luck.
“It is outside the normal programmable time for Clubs and Associated Student events and too close to finals during the peak classroom time to allow for an exception this close to the end of the semester,” Dr. Nancy Grass, Associate Dean for Student Life, said in an email to a YAF chapter member, declining to allow the Knowles event to happen outside of the activity hour.
However, according to another email obtained by Young America’s Foundation, another group called the Inter-Club Council is hosting a social event outside of the assigned activity hour on the very same day as the proposed Michael Knowles event.
It is notable, additionally, that other speakers have been allowed to speak outside of the so-called activity hour, including university-sponsored events with Adele Lim and Raha Lewis.
The student handbook also details their unconstitutional Free Speech Area:
“The Free Speech Area is defined as the area at the Art Complex grass area, and the Main Stage grass area. Any person may speak in the Free Speech Area at any time. Speech in this area may not be amplified by use of any sound or voice enhancement equipment, unless an Application for Use of Campus Facilities is approved by the Dean of Student Life or designee.”
The caveat to the already limiting regulations is that any activity in this area during activity hour must receive approval from the Dean of Student Life—a textbook example of prior restraint.
Unfettered discretion is allowing these administrators to pick and choose who gets to use their First Amendment rights, and when. Apparently, students check their rights to freedom of expression when they walk through the doors of Santa Monica College.
YAF calls on administrators at Santa Monica College to approve this event outside of the activity hour immediately. Young America’s Foundation is exploring all legal remedies to this situation.
For additional information or to request an interview contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-872-1776.