Four colleges accused in free speech lawsuits

Anne Millerbernd

Three state universities and a community college were named in lawsuits alleging violations of the first amendment, according to news sources.

A free speech watchdog group, called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, announced Tuesday that it filed four lawsuits against the institutions for discouraging free speech on campus, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The lawsuits involve Iowa State, Ohio universities, Chicago State University and California-based Citrus College, according to USA Today.

The suit against Iowa State alleges that a student group supportive of legalizing marijuana was banned and prevented from using the University’s logo on T-shirts, the Chronicle reported.

Ohio University’s suit came from a student group called Students Defending Students who wore T-shirts that said “we get you off for free,” according to the Chronicle.

A spokeswoman for the university said the students were never directed not to wear the shirts by administrators, the Chronicle reported.

USA Today reported that the Chicago State University lawsuit is based on an administration-critical faculty blog that the school’s administration tried to shut down.

When a student at Citrus College tried to get signatures for a petition against the National Security Agency outside of the designated free-speech area, he was told he would be kicked off campus, according to USA Today, prompting the lawsuit against the institution.

FIRE is a Pennsylvania-based organization that dedicates itself to defending the rights of students on college campuses across the country, according to it's website.