University asks student to get permission before distributing copies of the Constitution on campus

Teri Webster

Kean University in Union, New Jersey, asked a student to get permission from the university before distributing copies of the Constitution on campus, the Washington Examiner reported.

What happened?

“I had to get approval from the Center for Leadership and Service to hand out [copies of the] Constitution,” David Schnall, chapter president of Young Americans for Liberty at Kean University, told the Washington Examiner.

“When I said I wouldn’t go through the process they ignored me,” he added.

The story is part of the publication’s Red Alert Politics section, which is running a series of investigative pieces on campus speech codes.

Schnall gave the Center for Leadership and Service the time and date he planned to distribute copies the Constitution, but indicated he was not going to seek its approval, according to the report.

Kean University requires students to submit a formal request online at least five business days before distributing literature at designated sites, the report stated. The university reiterated its policy, but did not enforce it when Schnall distributed the copies without asking the Center for permission, according to the report.

Kean University has a red speech code rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s campus free speech rating system. The red speech code rating is given to colleges and universities with “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech,” according to FIRE’s website.

Kean University’s policy states that it “affirms the commitment of the university to free speech and to dissent,” and it “recognizes the inherent link between these two.”

What are students asked to submit?

Still, students are “encouraged” to submit a request for demonstration and distribution of literature form and return it to the Miron Student Center Operations and Event Management Office.

Once the form is processed, the university designates any applicable “time, place, and manner restrictions,” according to the report. It also includes a provision to place restriction on “spontaneous speech.”