College is supposed to be a time when young people are exposed to opportunities and ideas they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience.
University campuses are a breeding ground for creativity, and thoughtful discussion, but one university in particular is attempting to stop its students from using their fundamental rights, in the name of political correctness.
North Carolina State University is trying to teach its student body that in order to execute free speech, they need to use a permit, at least when it comes to talking about Jesus.
Unfortunately, it isn’t hard to believe, but an American university is attempting to prevent its students from freely, and openly talking about their relationship with Christ. In September of 2015, the school told the student group Grace Christian Life that in order to discuss their faith, or invite fellow students to events, they first had to obtain a permit.
The University issued the following statement:
“N.C. State’s permitting process is constitutional, does not infringe on First Amendment rights, and is in compliance with applicable state and federal law. In fact, hundreds upon hundreds of individuals and groups have used this process each year to distribute information regarding topics ranging from faith to politics to health and any number of other interests.”
The only problem is Grace Christian Life says the school is applying this policy unfairly, targeting their group specifically.
What exactly is the university trying to teach its student body with this policy? That everyone should be free from being talked to? The First Amendment doesn’t guarantee someone the right to not feel uncomfortable. If someone does not wish to discuss faith, they can simply say so. A policy preventing someone from sharing their thoughts and feelings is the exact opposite of what a university should be promoting.
Fortunately for the student group, the Alliance Defending Freedom is taking legal action against North Carolina State. Alliance Defending Freedom attorney told Fox News’ Todd Starnes that the school’s new policy is “an amazingly broad speech restriction.”
“Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, not places where students need a permit just to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.”
The student group has filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that “the University has not restricted the ability of other students and student groups to engage in expressive activity.”
“Grace [Christian Life] has witnessed other students, student groups and off-campus groups handing out literature either without a permit or outside of the area reserved by their table permit.”
The following is the school’s incredibly broad regulations on speaking when on campus:
This policy would make sense if it only dealt with people or groups attempting to sell things to students, but these are “non-commercial” solicitations. Essentially, striking up a conversation with someone without a permit would be a violation of University code. How do administrators, and faculty (supposedly intellectuals) come to the conclusion that limiting discussion of any kind is a good call?
According to the lawsuit, school officials had exchanged emails in regards to the Christian based group, and cited some personal concerns they had regarding student complaints:
“There is an individual named Tommy who works for Grace who is essentially soliciting throughout the building. He walks up to a single person or duo of persons, starts with a ‘hello’ and then starts the conversation into religion, ending with giving them a card.”
Oh no, not a card! How terrible that a student is engaging others in real conversation!
Many students on campus are confused by the school’s policy, finding it “a little funny that student organizations trying to get more members or trying to get their points of view across… have to get a permit for it.”
The University issued the following statement in regards to the lawsuit:
“N.C. State believes this lawsuit is both frivolous and without merit. N.C. State steadfastly remains willing to work with all individuals and organizations to educate them about the process and help them obtain a permit for distributing information and/or soliciting on campus.”
The school fails to see that the permit itself is in blatant violation of the First Amendment, as it is an attempt to prohibit free speech. ADF Senior Counsel David Hacker said as much in his statements in regards to the policy:
“The courts have well established that a public university can’t require permits in this manner for this kind of speech – and certainly can’t enforce such rules selectively. Unconstitutional censorship is bad enough, but giving university officials complete discretion to decide when and where to engage in silencing students makes the violation even worse.”
Private universities can do as they wish, but a publicly-funded school shouldn’t be trampling on the Constitution of the United States because a few students get uncomfortable hearing about Jesus.
God bless Grace Christian Life, and the students involved with the organization for standing up to bullies aimed at silencing Christians. Hopefully the courts side with the Constitution on this one, and allow students to speak freely to one another without having to ask for permission.