Students from a campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student organization, sued campus officials at Clovis Community College in California last week for allegedly requiring them to take down fliers expressing conservative viewpoints. The students are being represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), an organization that promotes academic freedom, free speech and due process rights.
According to the lawsuit, in November 2021, three students hung fliers on bulletin boards in academic buildings, including one that listed the death tolls of Communist regimes and warned against the dangers of “leftist ideas.” Clovis Community College president Lori Bennett ordered the fliers be taken down after administrators received complaints. The suit alleges she cited a rule that wasn’t previously in place that campus fliers are intended for club announcements.
“Clovis tried to put up barriers against our ideas because administrators didn’t like them,” Alejandro Flores, founder of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Clovis and one of the suit’s plaintiffs, said in a press release from FIRE. “But that’s the opposite of what a college should do. Our college should encourage us to discuss and sharpen our ideas, not shut down the conversation.”
Administrators reportedly used the same justification to prevent the group from putting up antiabortion posters in academic buildings the following month, though the posters were allowed on a “free speech kiosk” on campus. The lawsuit claims the kiosk is in a part of the campus infrequently trafficked by students.
“By relegating the flyers to a tiny kiosk, Clovis administrators tried to ensure that YAF’s opinions would never reach the rest of campus,” FIRE attorney Jeff Zeman said in the release.