Public University Threatened to Punish Student Over His Refusal to Remove Trump Sign from Dorm Window

A supporter of Republican vice-presidential nominee Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a sign at a rally on the Rockingham County Fairgrounds Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, in Harrisonburg, Va. (Nikki Fox/Daily News-Record via AP)
Nikki Fox/Daily News-Record via AP

A student at the University of South Alabama is taking heat from administrators for failing to remove a Donald Trump sign from the window of his dorm room.

Student William David Meredith has been threatened with disciplinary action by administrators over his refusal to remove a Donald Trump campaign sign from the window of his dorm room.

“I am asking that you remove the sign within 24 hours. I have included your RA, Tiffany, on this email so that she can check to ensure it is gone within 24 hours,” Community Director Dylan Lloyd wrote in an email, to which Meredith replied by simply stating: “1st Amendment.”

Although Lloyd acknowledged that Meredith does have first amendment protections on the public university’s campus, he countered by arguing that federal buildings cannot display endorsements of political candidates.

“The policy you’ve quoted pertains to political candidates, which President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are not,” Meredith argued. “Nothing on it says anything about campaigning and his campaign is over, which makes it memorabilia not campaign material.”

“While I understand that, it still shows that the university supports a particular candidate,” Lloyd fired back in response. “While we are not actively in campaign season, Trump will run for reelection in four years. The sign makes it look like the university supports Trump as a candidate.”

Meredith held firmly that no reasonable person would consider a sign in a student’s window to be an institutional endorsement of a political candidate. “No reasonable person would see a sign in a dorm room window and presume that the university is endorsing that message,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Travis Barham said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court has long recognized that a university does not endorse everything on campus that it fails to censor,” he explained, noting that “in 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that even elementary school students could understand this, saying ‘[t]he proposition that schools do not endorse everything they fail to censor is not complicated’ [Bd. of Educ. of Westside Cmty. Sch. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 250 (1990)].”

Despite this, administrators maintained that Meredith would be disciplined by the university if he refused to remove the sign from his window.

“If you are found responsible for violating policies, administrative sanctions will most likely be determined at the conclusion of the hearing, even if you do not attend,” an email from an administrator stated, asserting that Meredith “will be required to comply with all sanctions administrated [sic] as a result of the findings.”

Ultimately, the school’s Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Michael Haskins confirmed that Meredith would be able to keep his sign up in his window, citing a misunderstanding on the university policy on behalf on the staff members who originally took issue with the sign.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at