FAU allows SDS and other groups to protest, disciplines other student organizations for tabling

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

UPDATE (September 23, 2020): SLF sent a follow up letter today on behalf of a student organization, again requesting clarification from FAU about various COVID and speech policies. For example, SLF asked whether student organizations could table on campus, host indoor meetings, and approach other students around campus to poll them about political issues. SLF also inquired how the University would respond to anonymous--and uncorroborated--reports of COVID violations. The letter reads, "It is imperative that students know the University's position on these matters, because every minute that goes by is another minute that they are chilled into silence for fear of discipline."

BOCA RATON, FL (September 16, 2020): Today, SLF sent a letter to Florida Atlantic University (FAU) advising it to revise its discriminatory COVID policies. FAU requires students to maintain six feet of separation, wear masks, and avoid large gatherings. For this reason, student clubs can’t even table on campus to gain new members. But if students want to protest social injustice, they are free to do so. Administrators even took to social media to commend a student protest over racial inequality.

Attorney Cece O’Leary says, “students are confused by the University’s stance. Can they only engage in speech about social justice? They need clarity from their administrators, and more importantly, they need to know their administrators will treat all speech equally.” In the letter, SLF advised the University that it can only pass narrow, reasonable regulations that apply equally to all students.

SLF also notified the University that its disciplinary procedures are unclear. “The University threatens student organizations with a loss of funding and reservation power,” O’Leary states. “But the University fails to tell student organizations how it will investigate reports of COVID violations and how students can appeal any wrongful reports. This opens the door to due process issues.”

SLF concluded by reminding the University that students are entitled to full First Amendment freedoms and due process rights—even during a pandemic.

Click here for the Campus Reform article about SLF's efforts to combat discriminatory COVID policies.

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