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August 05, 2010 1:55 PM That’s the Thing with Free Speech…

By Daniel Luzer

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From the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) comes news of one Colorado college’s particularly creative approach to student dissent and activism. According to a piece by Samantha Harris on FIRE’s website:

Front Range Community College (FRCC) maintains a “free speech zone” policy limiting expressive activities on each of its three campuses to areas designated by the college. To use those areas, one must complete a “Free Speech Zone Registration Form.” The form contains a perfect blend of unintentional hilarity and horrendous unconstitutionality.

View the form here.

The FRCC (“we enrich lives through learning”) policy basically says that the college can “restrict the time, place, and manner of the… speech activity.” FRCC activists also can’t give out flyers or other materials anywhere on campus unless people specifically ask for it.

“Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in Ginzburg v. United States (1966). “It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

While an academic institution does have some interest in limiting student activity in order to maintain order and promote learning, there is no such thing as a legal free speech “zone.” Unless by zone the college means the United States of America.[Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer