Modesto Junior College in California made headlines only days ago when a video surfaced showing officials telling a student he could not pass out copies of the United States Constitution – on Constitution Day, Sept. 17.
But it turns out that the college’s positions and arguments weren’t even original or unique.
According to a report from Young Americans for Liberty, a group with more than 380 chapters and 125,000 students involved in promoting liberty, at least two other colleges did the same thing.
The video from Modesto went viral because college police and administrators demanded that Robert Van Tuinen stop passing out copies of the Constitution.
Van Tuinen also was told he would be allowed to hand them out only in a tiny “free speech zone” after approval by the college days or even weeks ahead of time.
Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said: “Watching the video is a combination of depressing and nauseating, to see what rigamarole students have to go through just to express themselves on campus.”
A spokeswoman for the college at that time reported that officials would investigate, because the rules allow students and the public to pass out materials if they do not disrupt orderly operations.
“In the case of the YouTube video, it does not appear that the student was disrupting the orderly operations of the college and therefore we are looking into the incident,” the spokeswoman said.
A school official at the College of Central Florida in Ocala was reading from the same script.
To a group whose members wanted to hand out Constitutions, the officer said, “You can’t do that.”
He explained the students would have to go through his office to get permission “any time you want to approach our students.”
“We can’t hand out Constitutions?” an incredulous student asked.
Citing the need for “proper protocol,” the officer said students could submit a request, and school officials would “check our calendar, make sure it doesn’t conflict with what we’re doing, then we’ll approve it or deny it.”
Likewise, at Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin officials made certain students understood.
“Would you like me to go and get security to explain it in more detail?” one official demanded of the students.
The students were ushered off of what the school considered its sidewalk to another “public” sidewalk.
“You need to request the time and place that you want to have that activity,” the school official said. “You can’t just show up.”
Alyssa Farah, director of communications for YAL, said the colleges “are in clear violation of the First Amendment.”
“Simply put, the mere concept of a ‘free speech zone’ is an affront to liberty and should have no place on college campuses,” she said.
See the incident in Modesto: