Univ. of Wisconsin restricts student expression in public outdoor areas of campus

River Falls campus forbids student conversation without advance permission, student group recognition

RIVER FALLS, Wis. – Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to officials with University of Wisconsin–River Falls on behalf of a student after a school administrator informed her that she could not engage in expression in the public outdoor areas of campus without paying for a reservation or registering as a student club. The letter explains that the university’s policies are vague and unconstitutional and, to avoid litigation, the school should permit students to exercise their First Amendment rights without unwarranted restraints.

On Sept. 6, 2019, freshman Sofie Salmon walked around UW–River Falls’s campus to recruit members to start a conservative club on campus. Accompanied by a couple of friends, she rolled an oversized beach ball—a “free speech ball”—along with her so that fellow students could express themselves by writing messages on it. Even though Salmon did not block any sidewalks, hinder instruction, or disrupt the campus educational environment, a school administrator told Salmon she must reserve a space for her expression, limit her speech to a public sidewalk on the edge of campus, or risk an encounter with campus police.

Full news release, quotes, and related media resources available at the following link:

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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