College campuses have gone through a dramatic change. Especially, when it comes to free speech on campus. There are many policies that are unconditional like security fees and restricting speakers. However, the establishment of free speech zones is bewildering.
Confining free speech to one area is ridiculous. In fact, Free Speech Zones are unconstitutional.
What is a Free Speech Zone?
In my first year at university, I had no idea what a “Free Speech Zone” was. Honestly, most people on campus didn’t know. Students knew it was a free speech “area.” For a while, I thought these areas helped promote freedom of speech. After all, most people on campus gathered there. However, that is not the case. These zones are designated areas for protestors and demonstrators to use their free speech. These areas are at universities and public events. But the question is why? Why did institutions make these locations?
The origins of Free Speech Zones actually come from college campuses. During the 1980s to 1990s, to restrict protests to designated areas. Universities argued that these areas prevent disruption of classes while remaining neutral. They also promised to follow guidelines like having other places to communicate. However, restrictions are never content-neutral. After all, the school gets “discretion” to enforce them. And the viewpoints at campuses are obvious.
Abuses of Free Speech Zones
If people gain power, they usually find a way to abuse it. And there are many ways to abuse these zones. You can see that at Arkansas State University. At their university, all political-based speech is confined in this area. However, you have to schedule to protest. That is right. You have scheduled a time to be able to freely express yourself. In addition, it restricts the time by making the “Zone” closed at 9 pm and on the weekends. In 2017, these policies lead to an incident when a student named Ashlyn Hoggard decided to do sign-up sheets for a new Turning Point USA chapter. The university orders her to stop before calling the police for violating conduct because she was engaging in a speech outside the speech zones.
This is just one of many incidents involving these designated zones. Restricting time, place, and where someone can speak is the opposite of freedom. These zones prevent people from being able to express themselves on campus.
Are They Unconstitutional?
Without a doubt, Free Speech Zones are unconstitutional. Under the first amendment, all of America is a “free speech zone.” So a university having only select areas to “express yourself” that are enforced by their own discretion is wrong. However, people are fighting back against these policies. States like Missouri, Arkansas, Virginia, and others, have started banning the practice on college campuses. Because freedom of speech should not be restricted to one area. Free speech is for everyone.