Tomas v. Coley

From February 2015 to July 2015
California State Polytechnic University – Pomona (Public college or university)
Pomona, CA, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Nicolas Tomas

    Nicolas Tomas was a student at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona.


Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration invoked formal speech code in response
    Campus police
  • Incident Status:
  • Was Speech Code incident


Nicolas Tomas was a student at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona. He is the founder and president of the Vegan Earth Collective, a registered student group, whose members believe veganism is a stance against animal cruelty and a solution to the widespread social justice issue of animal rights. On February 4, 2015, Tomas was handing out flyers about farm animal abuse on a sidewalk in a central area of campus. Tomas was accosted by campus police, who told him that he didn’t have a permit to hand out flyers. The officer told Tomas that he had to request permission from the Office of Student Life during business hours on weekdays before he could express his views on campus. If granted permission, then he would have to limit his advocacy to a “free speech zone” that comprised .01% percent of campus.

On March 31, 2015, Tomas filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging § 1983 violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and seeking damages, an injunction, and declaratory judgment. In July, 2015, the school settled with Tomas, agreeing to revise the restrictive speech code and pay Tomas $35,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.