By Alan Simpson
GPC’s free expression policy is in the crosshairs of a national rights advocacy group.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent interim President Rob Watts a letter Dec. 7 to request immediate revision of the college’s free expression policy.
Azhar Majeed, FIRE’s associate director of legal and public advocacy, authored the letter, calling GPC’s free expression policy a “threat to free speech and assembly.”
“GPC’s Free Expression Policy violates the First Amendment,” wrote Majeed.
FIRE learned of GPC’s policy from an article published online by the Student Press Law Center.
SPLC reported on a Nov. 14 incident in which David Schick, editor-in-chief of the Collegian, was informed he was violating the school’s policy by soliciting student opinions on the cancellation of fall graduation between buildings CD and CN on Clarkston campus.
Jordan Bradley, who wrote the SPLC story, contacted Schick the following week to let him know Will Creeley, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE, wanted to speak with him.
“We were shocked to read of your ordeal,” wrote Creeley in an email to Schick. After interviewing Schick, FIRE decided to proceed with a letter to GPC.
“FIRE asks that GPC revise its Free Expression Policy to make clear to all campus community members and university public safety officers that students like David Schick may demonstrate in the open and public areas of the campus without the requirement of prior notice,” wrote Majeed.
Majeed added, “FIRE would be happy to be of help with these revisions in any way we can, as we are committed to ensuring that GPC students are not subject to unconstitutional limitations on their freedom of expression.”
Majeed requested that GPC respond to FIRE’s letter no later than Dec. 21.
GPC’s policy requires that freedom of expression occur only in a “Free Expression area” located in the courtyard between buildings CA, CB, CC and CG.
The policy further states that the use of the area “must be approved through the Office of Student Life at least three (3) working days in advance,” and the area is only available 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday when classes are in session.
Schick was not stopped at Dunwoody or Decatur campuses.
For more information on FIRE, visit www.thefire.org.
UPDATE: Read FIRE’s full letter to GPC here.