UMaine catches the ire of FIRE

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

'Freedom of Speech' sign held upA university in the Northeast is requiring students to check in with campus police before they host an outdoor event, a protest, or even a recruitment table – and that's not reasonable, says a group that strives to protect the rights of college students in the U.S.

The University of Maine requires all student organizations and individuals to notify the chief of the university police "at least three days in advance of the nature, the time, and the place of the proposed activity," says the student handbook. Laura Beltz of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) contends that UMaine is out of bounds.

"Schools can put in place what are called 'time, place, and manner' restrictions on speech," she explains. '[But] they have to be reasonable – and making students notify the chief of police about any expression is not reasonable."

Beltz, FIRE's senior program officer for policy reform, points out that the university has adopted the Chicago Statement on free speech, which FIRE has endorsed and considers to be the gold standard for campus freedom of speech. In her opinion, UMaine is being hypocritical.

Beltz

"It truly does fly in the face of that commitment [to the Chicago Statement] as well as the university's commitment under the First Amendment – their legal obligation," Beltz tells OneNewsNow. "So both morally and legally, they're obligated to protect student expression – and they're not doing it with this policy."

The president of the UMaine College Republicans told Campus Reform the policy is "very restrictive of speech." Beltz, however, says while the policy doesn't restrict the content of speech, it does force students to go to the government in order to express themselves.

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