University of South Alabama student Dave Meredith was given 24 hours to remove a particular political sign from his dorm room window. The sign was so offensive within the academic community, even in solid-Republican Mobile County, that the university had to order its removal.
The sign said “Trump/Pence 2016.”
On March 30, Community Director Dylan S. Lloyd emailed Meredith, “It is against university policy for political signs to be posted in windows, including residence halls,” according to The Blaze.
This prompted a two-word answer–the two words most universities fear and try to ban.
“1st amendment,” Meredith replied.
Then Lloyd fell back on some bull excrement about the dorm being a “federal building” and thus could not display support for candidates. Except it’s not a federal building, and Meredith noted that alternative fact for him. And in case Lloyd missed it, President Trump and Vice President Pence are no longer candidates; they won the election nearly 5 months ago.
Taking lessons from United Airlines, the university decided to pursue charges against Meredith, because the First Amendment must not be allowed to flourish, lest every student speak their actual opinion. That would lead to chaos worse than the idiot “Antifa” totalitarians at Berkeley.
The school kept pushing until the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a letter advising them that the student has–you know–rights. Then the school (the initials of which are ironically “USA”) wisely backed down.
Part of the issue is a terrible misinterpretation of IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt rules prohibiting a school from endorsing a candidate. Schools would rather kill all free speech and expression than have to deal with even the merest perception of a violation. FIRE called that notion “absurd.”
Courts and tax authorities have repeatedly made clear that students are strongly presumed not to speak on behalf of the universities they attend. As stated in our letter, the notion that a sign in a student’s window might be viewed as an endorsement by the institution is absurd.
That’s only part of the issue. The bigger issue is that schools want to ban free speech because students are so easily offended. Especially free speech with which they disagree, or their special snowflake, safe-space-seeking little Fascist segregationists abhor. Even the mention of “Donald Trump” makes some of these wilted flowers lose what little pallid color remains in their privileged cheeks.
Prospective students, take notice:
If you answer the essay question “what do you care about most” by cutting pasting a vapid and violence-tinged hashtag 100 times, you might get admitted to Stanford. But if you use the words “First Amendment” without qualifying it by removing hate speech, transphobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry, Donald Trump and definitely anything related to the Bible, you might find yourself banned instead.