Southern Oregon University officials threatened student activists with disciplinary action for handing out copies of the Constitution outside of the campus' designated free speech zone. They were accused of making other students uncomfortable, according to Campus Reform.
A group of four students at SOU handed out copies of the Constitution on campus Tuesday while collecting signatures to end the university’s restrictive speech policies, which limit free speech to an area that totals less than one percent of campus. While doing so, the students were approached multiple times by school administrators and campus police, who all asked the students to move to a different area of campus.
"I would very much like you to leave, if you would, please, because the students have the right to be able to come by here without you guys, you know, invading their space and asking them to do something," Tim Robitz, director of university housing, can be heard telling the students in an exclusive video obtained by Campus Reform.
The students also said their group, Students for Concealed Carry, were told their advocacy for gun carry was causing fear that other students may be in danger.
"We encountered wild accusations that because the event was affiliated with SCC, there was legitimate fear for the imminent danger of students on campus," SCC member Stephanie Keaveney told Campus Reform after the incident. "Administrators accused us of causing an immediate panic for the safety of students in the face of gun violence, or the promotion of such."
The college is treading on thin ice, a legal expert told Campus Reform.
"Caging students in censorship zones flies in the face of the First Amendment and undermines the reason for education," David Hacker, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, told Campus Reform. "Colleges and universities are and should be the marketplace of ideas, and the Constitution protects the speech rights of everyone, not just groups or students that a few university officials personally choose."
Keaveney confirmed to Campus Reform that city police never approached the student group or asked them to leave. She also said that so far the university hasn’t taken any action against the students despite the threats to the contrary.