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College Republicans of SIUE v. Dunn

From October 2017 to February 2018
Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville (Public college or university)
Edwardsville, IL, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • College Republicans of SIUE
    Student
    Other

    The College Republicans are a recognized student group at SIUE that are dedicated to promoting and advocating for conservative values on the SIUE campus through a variety of means including flyers, signs, peaceful demonstrations, hosting tables with information, inviting speakers to campus, and talking with fellow students about conservative ideas.

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Other student-organized event
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration not protective of speech
    University administration invoked formal speech code in response to incident
    University administration changes university policy as a consequence of event
    Litigation
  • Incident Status:
    Settled
  • No protest Occured
  • Was Speech Code incident

Summary

Southern Illinois University—Edwardsville (“SIUE”) implemented a “Speech Zone Policy” that prohibited First Amendment activities outside of a twenty-foot radius around a campus monument known as “The Rock.” Even traditionally public areas such as public sidewalks, walkways, and lawns were off-limits to students wishing to express themselves. This “Speech Zone” comprised less than 0.0013% of the entire SIUE campus. Additionally, according to the Speech Zone Policy, students could not speak at the zone unless they received permission from the school at least 48 hours in advance. That permission had to be granted 90 days in advance if, in its sole discretion, the school determined that the planned activity was “controversial.” Furthermore, that permission would not be granted if the speech zone was already reserved. In other words, if the speech zone was reserved, or the content of the proposed speech was too controversial, students could not—practically speaking—exercise their First Amendment rights on campus. Students who did not follow these policies were subject to a range of punitive actions, up to and including suspension or dismissal. The SIUE College Republicans Chapter desired to engage in First Amendment activities outside of the “Speech Zone” without having to obtain permission from the school up to 90 days in advance. On October 25, 2017 the College Republicans filed suit in the Southern District of Illinois largely seeking (1) declaratory relief, (2) injunctive relief, and (3) a ruling that the school’s policies were unconstitutional. Soon after filing the complaint, SIUE and the College Republicans settled and jointly dismissed the lawsuit on February 2, 2018. Under the settlement, SIUE agreed to make several changes to its student speech policies. Namely, the school eliminated the permit requirement for First Amendment activities and agreed that all outdoor areas on campus generally open to the public would be available for students who wished to engage in speech. Additionally, the school agreed to pay $10,000 to cover the College Republicans’ damages and attorneys’ fees.