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Sanders v. Guzman

From February 2015 to May 2016
Blinn College (Public college or university)
Brenham, TX, USA

Identity of Speakers

  • Nicole Sanders
    Student
    Other

    Nicole Sanders was a student at Blinn College.

Resources

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Other student-organized event
    Other
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration not protective of speech
    Litigation
  • Incident Status:
    Settled
  • No protest Occured
  • Was Speech Code incident

Summary

Students at Blinn College, a public community college in Texas, sought to collect signatures to form of a new student club chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian and conservative youth organization. In connection with their recruiting efforts for the club, the students held signs outside the student center for an hour and a half on February 2, 2015. One sign read “LOL,” with the Obama logo instead of the O while another sign advocated for gun rights. During the display, an administrator, accompanied by armed campus security officers, approached one of the participating students, Nicole Sanders, and told her that she and her fellow classmates needed special permission to continue with their display of posters and signs. In subsequent communications, the administration told her that all expressive activity must gain its approval a month in advance.

On May 20, 2015, Sanders filed suit in the Western District of Texas challenging Blinn’s “free speech area” policy. The policy required that all expressive activity take place in a tiny portion of the 62-acre campus, and that all such activities be given prior approval by the administration to the extent they involved the distribution of any materials on campus. Sanders also alleged that one of her professors threatened her with retaliation, telling her that he would “protect me and mine” if she intended to take any action against the school.
On May 4, 2016, Blinn College agreed to change its restrictive free speech area policy and pay Sanders $50,000 for damages and legal fees to settle the action.