Free speech area is center of student-filed lawsuit against Pierce College

Pierce student Kevin Shaw filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the college stating that not only is the free speech zone too small, but the policies are “arbitrarily” enforced.

Shaw is being represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) as the first lawsuit in their Million Voices Campaign, whose goal is to “free the voices of 1 million students by striking down unconstitutional speech codes across the country.”

Shaw was confronted by administration last fall as he handed out copies of the US Constitution on the Pierce Mall, seeking to recruit students for Young Americans for Liberty, a political organization with chapters on college campuses across the US.

The free speech zone is a 616 square foot area located on the Mall. According to FIRE, the free speech zone makes up .003 percent of a 426-acre campus.

Most recently, San Gabriel Valley’s Citrus College had to pay a $110,000 settlement in 2014 to student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle. Sinapi-Riddle was told he could not collect signatures outside of the campus’ designated free speech zone. In addition to the settlement, Citrus College also agreed to increase the size of the free speech area.