The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has just scored yet another victory for free speech. In a sadly familiar case, the University of Hawaii at Hilo prevented students Merritt Burch and Anthony Vizzone from handing out copies of the US Constitution. A UH adminstrator told them they could only conduct such advocacy in a limited “free speech zone,” adding that “this isn’t really the ’60s anymore.” Additing insult to injury, the area they designated as a “free speech zone” was often flooded.
With the help of FIRE’s attorneys, Burch and Vizzone successfully pressured UH to change its policies. The school now allows free speech and pamphlets anywhere “generally available to students and the community.” In a press release, Burch expressed satisfaction that “students across the University of Hawaii system can exercise their First Amendment rights without fear that they will be disciplined.” Would that every college student felt the same. Given that this isn’t the case, FIRE has its work cut out for it.