Campus group files suit against UA for allegedly ‘restricting student speech’

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA – October 22, 2010: Sign for The University of Alabama on the front of the College of Nursing building. This building was recently constructed on the southeast corner of campus, which is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (USA).

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Attorneys filed a lawsuit against the University of Alabama on behalf of a campus group, alleging restrictions on free speech.

The suit was filed on May 21 by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the UA chapter of Young Americans for Liberty and alleges that the university’s Facilities and Grounds Use Policy “restricts” students’ speech even in the generally accessible outdoor areas of campus,” according to the filed complaint.

The policy in question requires students to receive official approval from the university five days before engaging in expressive activities on campus.

According to the complaint, this policy violates Alabama Act 2019-396, the “Campus Free Speech Act”, which guarantees that every student at a public university can “spontaneously and contemporaneously assemble, speak and distribute literature in the common areas of campus.” The complaint also claims that the policy is in violation of the Alabama Constitution’s Free Speech Clause as well as ALA.CODE § 16-68-3(a)(3). This code states that “students, administrators, faculty and staff are free to take positions on public controversies and to engage in protected expressive activity in outdoor areas of the campus, and to spontaneously and contemporaneously assemble, speak, and distribute literature.”

The University of Alabama did not comment on the litigation but “remains committed to freedom of speech and expression for members of its campus community,” according to representatives.

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