According to Fresno State public health professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher, “free speech” for students only applies in certain “free speech areas”
A pro-life student organization, “The Students for Life,” has released a video of an incident that occured May 2, when Thatcher and some of his students started erasing chalk messages the pro-lilfe group had written on the sidewalk.
Thatcher claimed the group could only take their message to the “free speech area. The trouble is, Students for Life had permission from the college to write the messages, and there is no such thing as a “free speech zone” on the campus.
The Fresno State president released a statement confirming the students’ rights to write their chalk messages on the sidewalk, and said they are reviewing the matter.
In response to the matter, Alliance Defending Freedeom filed a lawsuit against Thatcher on Thursday, on behalf of the Students for Life group, as he infringed upon their free speech rights by wiping out thier pro-life messages written on the sidewalk.
Fresno State supports and defends the right of students to free speech and the peaceful expression of ideas on campus. The university’s policy is clear: free speech on campus is not limited to a “free speech zone” or any other narrowly defined area. Universities have an obligation to encourage the free expression of ideas, values and opinions.
The students who wrote the chalk messages received prior university approval and were well within their rights to express themselves in this manner.
Those disagreeing with the students’ message have a right to their own speech, but they do not have the right to erase or stifle someone else’s speech under the guise of their own right to free speech. We are reviewing this matter and take the situation very seriously.
-Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro
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