A public university in Virginia is being sued over a policy that allegedly violates the First Amendment free speech rights. The policy encourages students to report s0-called “hate speech” incidents, including those that take place offline and off campus.
The lawsuit was filed against Virginia Tech. According to the lawsuit, the school has policies that “restrain, deter, depress, and punish speech about the political and social issue of the day.”
We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.
Virginia Tech, as a publicly funded university is bound, by precedent, by the First Amendment right to free speech. And there’s no such thing as “hate speech” in the eyes of the law.
Speech First is particularly concerned about the school encouraging students to report on each other for incidents that took place off-campus.
Additionally, the press release announcing the lawsuit claims that students can report each other anonymously and hate speech incidents can be reported at any time, regardless of how long ago the incident happened.
According to Speech First, the university is creating an environment where exercising the freedom of expression can have serious disciplinary consequences.
“Under these policies, students can be disciplined for ‘unwelcome jokes’ – or even being present when such jokes are made and failing to report when such comments are made by another person; sending “partisan, political” emails using the university’s internet; or failing to register to hand out flyers on campus,” the organization wrote.
The lawsuit was filed on April 8 at the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The school is yet to be served with the lawsuit.