Written by Michelle Gregoire.
Even in the midst of preparing for finals, it was hard to miss the growing epidemic on college campuses across the country. Violent and destructive riots. Mobs shutting down speakers they don’t like. And student protestors attacking and injuring professors.
I couldn’t help but wonder, as I watched all of this unfolding, why there wasn’t more of an uproar about this from campus officials. Campus officials at Kellogg Community College in Michigan were certainly quick to shut down my speech. I was arrested, in fact.
My crime? I was handing out copies of the Constitution on campus.
There was no screaming, there was no rioting, there was no mob, and there certainly were no casualties. And yet, I’m the one that wound up arrested.
You see, KCC has a “speech zone” policy. In fact, the entire outdoor portion of the campus is a “no speech zone” where no one can speak without the school’s permission. I learned the hard way that if you dare speak without official approval, there are consequences.
What is ironic is that the very document that we were passing out guarantees our right to speak freely anywhere on campus–the Constitution.
My college group, Young Americans for Liberty, exists in part to educate other students on our founding freedoms. On the day I was arrested along with some others, we were simply asking students as they walked by, “Do you like freedom and liberty?” and passing out copies of the Constitution. Peacefully.
We have our priorities backward if campus rioters face fewer consequences than we did. And it sends the wrong message to students: that free speech only extends to popular or government-approved ideas.
Perhaps university officials should spend a little more time reading the document that we were passing out. It is the document our country was founded on, after all.
Our universities have a duty to teach students what it means to engage in free speech. Free speech means that everyone’s ideas and thoughts are welcome, even if we don’t like them. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they should be silenced.
Thankfully, Alliance Defending Freedom came to our defense. We are asking that my school revise their policies and respect free speech.
College officials should be partnering with us in educating students on what it means to engage in free speech and why it’s worth protecting, not arresting us. Hopefully, KCC will revise their policies to respect our constitutional rights, and we can start making a change one campus at a time.