Student fights CA university over 'free speech badge'

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Bob Kellogg (

A public university has such restrictive speech policies on campus that students are required to wear a badge, and restricted to a tiny space, to pass out flyers. 

Nicolas Tomas, a student at California State Polytechnic University, filed last month after a police officer told him he needed a permit to hand out flyers promoting animal rights. 

Catherine Sevcenko of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, says Tomas was required to obtain an official name badge.

FIRE has never seen a "free speech badge" required by a college, she tells OneNewsNow.

"So literally they need the government's 'stamp of approval' on their bodies when they speak," she says. 

Students at Cal Poly are organizing a protest this week to demonstrate against the small space on campus provided for free speech.

Young Americans for Liberty, a student group, is organizing the event.

"We're glad that other students are standing up with Nicolas to challenge these policies," Sevcenko says of the protest.

FIRE has sent 300 letters to colleges and universities warning them of their unconstitutional speech codes, including a letter to Cal Poly.

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