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February 27, 2012 6:10 PM University of Cincinnati’s “Free Speech Zone”

By Daniel Luzer

Students at the University of Cincinnati are suing the school over its use use of one of the more bizarre features of contemporary American protest suppression: the free speech zone. According to a piece by Robert Shibley in The Daily Caller:

Zero point one percent. Out of the 8,506,833 square feet (approximately 137 acres) of its West Campus, the University of Cincinnati (UC), a public university, has decided that students may exercise their rights to “demonstrate, picket, or rally” on a small scrap of land that constitutes 0.1 percent of the campus. If they dare to exercise these basic rights outside of that “Free Speech Area,” they will be reported to the campus police and charged with trespassing.
Oh, and students cannot even indulge in free expression on this scrap of land unless they file an official request with the administration at least 10 working days (thus, 14 calendar days — barring any holidays, of course) before their demonstration or rally takes place.

On February 8th some students were attempting to gather signatures in support of anti-union legislation in Ohio. Cincinnati told them they they would not be allowed to gather signatures across campus and would be restricted to the protest area.

The students are now suing the university in federal district court.

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