National Civil Liberties Watchdog Group to College: You Clearly Violated Students' 1A Rights

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Posted: Feb 22, 2019 7:45 PM
National Civil Liberties Watchdog Group to College: You Clearly Violated Students' 1A Rights

Last week, the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Orange Coast College participated in the college's recruitment fair. Administrators quickly told the chapter they needed to remove a pro-Second Amendment flag from their booth. 

After receiving public backlash for the decision, OCC's Director of Student Life, Mike Morvice, sent a letter to Benjamin Keene, the chair of the OCC Young Americans for Freedom chapter:

Greetings Ben,

I hope that this email finds you enjoying the long President’s Day weekend.  I would like to follow-up on our conversation last Tuesday when I requested that the flag that was displayed by the Young Americans for Freedom Club at the OCC Pirate Involvement Fest be taken down.

My suggestion to you that the flag needed to be removed was based upon my misunderstanding of District Administrative Policy 3530, and specifically, on my misinterpretation of the word “facsimile.”  I now have had an opportunity to review this situation with the administration who clarified for me that what is prohibited on campus are weapons or facsimiles of weapons that are replicas which can be mistaken for a real weapon.  

I should not have asked you to remove the flag, and indeed, you and your Club had a constitutional right to display the flag under the First Amendment.    I would like to apologize for requesting that you take the banner down.

OCC and the Coast District are committed to protecting students’ right of free speech, and I look forward to our continued discussions to keep OCC the great educational institution that it is.

Sincerely,

Mike Morvice
Director, Student Life
Orange Coast College

According to Juan Gutierrez, the Director of Public Affairs and Marketing for OCC, the college is working with YAF students to clarify the school's policies.

"The College has also reached out to the group in order to create a dialogue on the interpretation of the Board Policy that address firearms and their facsimiles," Gutierrez told Townhall. "In addition, OCC is working with our Coast Community College District partners to prepare training for administrators at all three colleges on freedom of expression and speech."

Young America's Foundation gave OCC kudos for writing a wrong.

“YAF applauds OCC for owning up to its mistake and offering a sincere apology over the weekend, just two days after YAF went public with this story. It is our hope that more schools would handle issues concerning infringement of First Amendment rights in this way," YAF spokesman Spencer Brown told Townhall.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) on Thursday sent a letter to OCC's administration explaining that Morvice blatantly disregarded YAF students' First Amendment rights. 

"Students shouldn't be gun-shy about standing up for their First Amendment rights, and institutions should keep the safety on before taking action that might imperil student expression. That's true whether the students are advocating for gun rights or for gun control," Adam Steinbaugh, Individual Rights Defense Program Director at FIRE, told Townhall. 

Here's the full letter: