ADF: U. of Wisconsin-River Falls Policies Violate Students’ Free Speech Rights

Demand Democracy free speech protest
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The Alliance Defending Freedom says that a University of Wisconsin-River Falls policy violates its students’ First Amendment rights. In a letter sent to the university on Monday, the legal group calls on the school to revise its policies “to ensure that administrators do not prohibit students from speaking spontaneously in public outdoor areas.”

“UW-River Falls’ policies currently violate the First Amendment and our client’s rights,” states Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in a letter to the university.

The non-profit legal group is representing Sofie Salmon — who recruiting members for a Turning Point USA (TPUSA) student group last September — was told by a university official that she needed to obtain permission from the school in order to exercise her First Amendment rights on the public university grounds.

The school official added that the police would be called if the conservative student refused to do so.

“Sofie did not block any sidewalks, impede traffic, hinder instruction, or in any way disrupt the campus educational environment,” said ADF in its letter. “She stayed only in public outdoor areas where other students often walk and talk.”

“Even so, UW-River Falls Conference and Contract Services Manager Kristin Barstad approached Sofie and told her that she must stop and leave immediately,” added the legal group.

ADF went on to mention that Salmon was also told she would have to pay a fee in order to recruit students for a conservative group on campus.

“When Sofie asked why and what policy forbade her from speaking, Ms. Barstad was unable to cite a specific policy but stated that even though Sofie was a student she would have to pay to reserve space to engage in expression,” said ADF.

The legal group is now calling on the university to respond by “identifying the policy applied to prohibit Sofie from speaking,” as well as agree “to revise the outdoor facility use policies to ensure that administrators do not prohibit students from speaking spontaneously in public outdoor areas.”

Salmon’s interaction with Barstad was caught on video, which shows the school official informing the student that the police would be called if the TPUSA group continued recruitment without first obtaining permission from the university.

“I was really surprised about this as I’d never heard of these policies and it is confusing me as to how I’m supposed to go about talking with other students without paying a fee or having to book a space,” wrote Salmon in an email to Barstad last November — a few weeks following the incident.

“I looked all over the website and haven’t been able to locate any information on policies we might have violated, nor the policy requiring payment for the use of space,” she added.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls did not immediately respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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