Free Speech Zones unconstitutional, according to lawsuit

By Steven Adamo

A lawsuit filed in March by Pierce College student Kevin Shaw against The Los Angeles Community College District claims that campus Free Speech Zones are unconstitutional.

Last fall, Shaw was prevented from passing out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside of the campus’ Free Speech Zone by a college administrator.

According to a Los Angeles             Times report in April, the administrator informed Shaw that he was only able to pass out the Constitution after obtaining a permit and could only do so within the campus’ Free Speech Zone during set times.

“Usually, free speech zones in LACCD colleges are very tiny.          Ours is tinier than a stamp if you put it on a map. It depends on how they enforce it,” Tahmineh Dehbozorgi said.

Tahmineh is the current president of the Young Americans For Liberty club at Pierce College and helped organize a Free Speech protest Thursday at the campus.

The club provided a giant beach ball and encouraged students to freely write their opinions on it.

According to the YAL website, “Free Speech Balls work exceptionally well because they are not standing structures and are mobile. If your school’s administration approaches you and asks you to remove the giant beach ball, just roll it to a different spot on campus.”

Hand-written messages on the ball ranged in topics from politics, to economics, to love.

One student wrote “Bill Clinton is a rapist” and another wrote “using the 1st Amendment card to advocate the right to speak freely only legitimizes the State that allegedly protects it.” 

Last month, the U.S. Justice Department filed a brief that claims Pierce College “effectively bans all spontaneous speech” by requiring names and                                            affiliated organizations before engaging in free speech on campus.

In an article posted on The Roundup News, Pierce College’s campus newspaper, Arthur Willner, an attorney at Leader & Berkon who is helping represent Shaw, said the “ultimate goal is to abolish the Free Speech Area and the need for permits, making the entire campus a free speech zone.”

Alec Ilinsky, a Political Science major at Pierce College, said in a video posted on YouTube                         that free speech on campus isn’t limited to the Free Speech Zone.

“That zone doesn’t serve as a place to only have free speech. It serves us for solicitors to be there,” Ilinsky said.

Board Rule 9902 of the Free Speech Area Usage form at East Los Angeles College states that “expression which is obscene, libelous, or slanderous according to current legal standards                                      or which so entices students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on Community College premises, or the violation of Community College regulations or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the Community College, shall be prohibited.”

The ELAC Free Speech zone is located at the East side of Parking Structure 3, next to the smoking zone.

The Free Speech Area Usage form is available at the Student Activities Office, F5-212.

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