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Zoning Out on Free Speech


Just walk over here, to this one specific piece of real estate, and say it ... “At the University of South Dakota, a student needs to reserve a free-speech spot at least five days in advance,” the Inside Higher Education article notes.


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“The Death of Free-Speech Zones,” reads a recent headline in Inside Higher EducationIt’s a demise that anyone who believes in the First Amendment can cheer.The zones were intended to mollify college students who (rightfully) protested the proliferating rules aimed at restricting their ability to speak up on campusWant to say what’s on your mind? Just walk over here, to this one specific piece of real estate, and say itProblem solved! Except it wasn’t.For one thing, the zones that campus administrators so generously deeded to their students were often ludicrously small (at Pierce College in Los Angeles, for example, it was about 600 square feet, or roughly the size of three parking spaces)Others were located in campus areas that placed students out of the way of most foot traffic.In some cases, it was worse: You couldn’t simply go to one of these zones and start handing out your literature, or begin speakingYou had to reserve the space beforehand“At the University of South Dakota, a student needs to reserve a free-speech spot at least five days in advance,” the Inside Higher Education article notes.But logistical problems were the least of itEven if the zones were larger, more accessible, and could be used spontaneously, you’re still dealing with a cowardly “solution” that violates the ConstitutionIt’s a shame to have to point out the obvious, but these administrators don’t seem to realize that the entire campus is already a free-speech zoneAnd not because they allow it, but because it’s located in the United States of America.

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