Young Americans for Liberty, Western Illinois University

August 2019
Western Illinois University (Public college or university)
Macomb, IL, United States


Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Recognized student group event
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    Campus police
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Young Americans for Liberty is a conservative student group with a chapter at Western Illinois University. In August 2019, members of the group gathered in an open area of campus to advertise their group. They also held out a sign promoting “Free ‘Pot’ Brownies”—a literal pot full of non-hallucinogenic brownies. The students used the opportunity to discuss their views on the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, which the Illinois legislature was debating at the time.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), within minutes the students were stopped by members of the campus police. They shut down the event, claiming that the students were outside of the university’s designated free speech zone. FIRE had contacted Western Illinois in June calling for it to discontinue its use of free speech zones. As far back as 2003, then-President Al Goldfarb said “I do not believe that we would ever want to restrict free speech to a specific area on the campus” in an announcement claiming the immediate elimination of the free speech zone policy.