In October 2022, a federal judge granted a conservative student's group at Clovis Community College a preliminary injunction after campus officials allegedly wouldn't allow the group to post their fliers on campus bulletin boards. The injunction temporarily blocks campus officials from enforcing their flyer guidelines that require pre-approval and prevent students from using “offensive or inappropriate language or themes” because the language of the policy was overly general and ambiguous.
After the student group Young Americans for Freedom posted fliers on their campus bulletin boards, the administration started to receive complaints about the flier's anticommunism message. The college president ordered the fliers be removed but then allowed the group to post anti-abortion fliers in a specific outdoor free speech kiosk that received less traffic only a month later.
Explaining The Judge's Ruling
As we mentioned in the last blog about free speech and flyer policies on campus, most colleges mandate guidelines that students and student organizations must follow before their fliers can be posted on campus. One universal rule included getting prior permission from the campus administration and ensuring the fliers did not use any offensive or vulgar language or themes, including sexually explicit photos or messages that promoted the overuse of alcohol or other illegal substances.
According to Clovis Community College flyer instructions, flyers must be approved and stamped by the Student Center Staff. Without that approval stamp, the flyers will be removed and thrown away. The anticommunism flyers were initially approved by the community college. The flyers were not removed until people on campus started to complain to the administration that the flyers made them feel uncomfortable. The judge was inclined to grant the preliminary injunction because the application of the flyer policy seemed to have been made arbitrarily, making the guidelines too vague to enforce.
When guidelines are too vague to enforce, the speech tends to fall within the realm of free speech and is thus protected. It will be interesting to see how this case turns out when it is finally resolved.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
If you or someone you love has been accused of violating a flyer policy on their campus, an attorney-advisor is their best bet to prevent any unnecessary negative consequences. Flyer policies tend to be an extension of the university's code of conduct. Code of conduct violations are taken extremely seriously by most, if not all, institutions of higher education. Students accused of violating the code of conduct face harsh sanctions that will have long-term effects on their future. For instance, if your university determines that your fliers were placed without permission or incited an immediate act of violence, you can be suspended or expelled. Suspensions and expulsions will be noted on your final transcript and can impact your ability to return to college to continue your education.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm understand how important freedom of speech is for every individual in America. It is a mandatory right that can only be limited in specific situations. They will be able to help you protect yourself from having your rights violated. Call 888-535-3686 today for help, or schedule a consultation online.