Students at Fairmont State Will No Longer Need Permission to Speak to Students and Canvass on Campus

BY:

A student who was told by a campus police officer he needed permission to speak to students and gather signatures for his libertarian group on campus has been victorious and the university has revised its unconstitutional policy.

The Fairmont State University Board of Governors voted to revise the university's campus solicitation policy which required students get permission to gather signatures on campus and pre-approval for any literature they planned to hand out.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intervened on behalf of student Dustin Winski, who was collecting signatures in support of the campus libertarian group the Young Americans for Liberty.

Winski was approached by a campus police officer last year and informed he needed a permit to continue to speak to students because "soliciting requires you to … ask permission to do it."

FIRE sent a letter in October to the university asking it to revise its unconstitutional policy to protect students' First Amendment rights.

West Virginia Assistant Attorney General Dawn George, in response to FIRE's letter, reviewed the solicitation policy and worked with the organization to revise its language. At Thursday's meeting, the university's Board of Governors voted to accept the revisions.

"Public universities cannot require students to get written permission to take part in political canvassing on campus," said FIRE Program Officer Sarah McLaughlin, in a prepared statement. "FIRE commends Fairmont State for working with us to ensure its students are free to engage in core expressive activity."

"Campuses risk losing their vibrancy when they place unconstitutional burdens on student expression," said McLaughlin. "FIRE stands ready to work with any university interested in reforming its speech codes to better protect its students' First Amendment rights."

Mary Lou Lang

Mary Lou Lang   Email Mary Lou | Full Bio | RSS
Mary Lou Lang is a freelance writer whose stories have been published in The Revered Review, StreetAuthority, Trefis, the Daily Caller, and Area Development Magazine. Several of her stories have been republished on The Blaze and the Heartland Institute’s Heartlander Magazine. Prior to freelancing, she worked at financial magazines for Dow Jones and the A.M. Best Company.

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