Yuba College student Ryan Dozier being cited for speaking without permission
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Yuba College student Ryan Dozier after he was cited for speaking on the Northern California campus without a permit and warned a second offense could result in his expulsion.
“Students do not need a permit to exercise their First Amendment rights on campus,” said Heath Gebelin Hacker, litigation staff counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom, which is handling the case for Dozier.
“When a student can be threatened with a citation and expulsion while peacefully sharing a Christian message, American colleges can no longer be considered a marketplace of ideas,” she said.
A WND message left for Paul Mendoza, the school’s chief officer, requesting a comment was not returned.
The ADF Center filed its lawsuit over the school’s policies that limit student free speech activities to just two hours per week – and then require a permit to be obtained two weeks in advance.
It was on Feb. 27 when Dozier arrived on campus in Marysville, Calif., north of Sacramento, to go to class and share a Christian message with fellow students.
“Dozier was approached by a campus police officer, who told him he needed a permit for such activity and that he would be arrested and face expulsion if he continued. The college allows ‘free speech’ only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., with permission required two weeks in advance,” the law firm said.
A few weeks later, Dozier got a certified letter from Mendoza, with a copy forwarded to the chief of police.
“I will, at this point, issue you a written warning to not violate the ‘Student Code of Conduct’ or any rule or college policy pertaining to student conduct, time, place, and manner or other requirements of the college,” the letter said. “Should you violate my directive, you will face further discipline up to and including expulsion from the college. Do not let this happen!
“I trust you will adhere to my directive,” Mendoza wrote.
However, there are problems with the policy and its enforcement, according to the lawsuit.
“A student peacefully exercising his First Amendment right to speak on campus is committing no crime,” Hacker explained. “Yuba College is the one running afoul of the law by unlawfully censoring Christian student speech on campus.”
In addition to the lawsuit, ADF attorneys are asking the court to suspend the problematic policies while the case moves forward in court.
Dozier had been doing nothing more than trying to engage in one-on-one discussions with fellow students on campus and hand out tracts.
“Dozier positioned himself in the open, main area of campus near the library and stood off to the side of the sidewalk near the grass. The area resembles a public park and is uniquely suitable for expressive purposes,” the lawsuit said. “Discussion in this area on social, cultural, political, religious and other issues does not interfere with the conduct of classes on campus.”
The school’s policies, the lawsuit challenges, “restrict and abridge the expressive rights of college students. … With [its] scheme, college admnistrators have unfettered discretion in determining where, if anywhere, student speech may occur.”