An official at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls told a conservative student that she needs to obtain permission from the school to exercise her First Amendment rights on the public university grounds, adding that the police would be called if the student refuses to do so.
A freshman student recruiting members for her conservative student group Turning Point USA (TPUSA) was told by a University of Wisconsin-River Falls official last week that she must first ask for the school’s permission before exercising her First Amendment rights at the public campus, according to a report by Campus Reform.
The student had been recruiting members in a grassy area of the public campus alongside one field director from TPUSA, and a second field director from the Leadership Institute.
The three individuals had with them a “free speech ball,” which is an inflatable beach ball used by conservatives groups on college campuses, encouraging students to write anything they want on the ball as a means for starting a conversation, as well as reminding students of their right to free speech.
After one of the field directors asked what would happen if the student were to continue recruiting TPUSA members without requesting permission from the school, the official informed them that the police would be called. The exchange was caught on video.
“So even if she’s a student, she can’t be out here?” one of the field directors can be heard saying in the video.
“No,” responded the university official, shaking her head.
“And what policy is that?”
“I’m not going to know that off the top of my head,” said the official, who then suggested they contact the school’s university director for more information.
“What would be the consequences if we won’t comply [unintelligible]?”
“University police would come and ask you to leave, based on the university policy that you’re violating,” said the official.
The university official — reported by Campus Reform as the school’s conference and contract services manager, Kristin Barstad — had approached the three individuals asking them to leave the premises less than 30 minutes after the ball was inflated.
These types of instances are not isolated to one, or even a few schools.
Just last week, for example, an official at Keene State College in New Hampshire was also filmed telling conservative activists that they needed permission to exercise free speech at the publicly-funded college, adding that after being granted said permission, they would then only be allowed to exercise their speech within the bounds of the school’s designated “free speech area.”
Earlier this year, staff at Georgia Southern University called the police on their own students because they did not “fill out paperwork” requesting to exercise their free speech rights on public property. The police arrived at the scene and informed the students that while they cannot legally arrest them, the students could still be punished by “the Dean of Students.”