Colleges and universities must maintain policies on their websites that are easy to locate and understand. Otherwise, students cannot be expected to comply with them. Miami University fails to maintain clear guidelines for speech activities on campus and, as a result, students are left wondering when, where, and how they can engage in expression. On top of that, the University violates the First Amendment by requiring students to get approval before they can even engage in speech. This is an unconstitutional prior restraint. For these reasons, Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) is calling on the University to revise its policies.
In a letter to Miami University, SLF advises that campus policies cannot be so vague and so broad that students find it nearly impossible to comply with them. But the University maintains several policies regarding campus events and speech activities that seem to contradict each other, such as different requirements regarding how many days in advance students must reserve a space for a speech activity. Worse, when students want to reserve a space to host a meeting or event, or create a display on campus, they must get prior approval from the University. But the University fails to explain how it reviews and approves those requests. This opens the door to discrimination based on viewpoint, where reviewing authorities can approve or deny speech activities based on whether they agree with the messages students want to convey. Viewpoint-based discrimination is never constitutional, and for this reason, SLF is calling on the University to make it clear to students and administrators that speech can never be shut down based on a speaker’s views.