Scrolling Headlines:

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January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

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January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Prince Hall flood over winter break -

January 10, 2018

Minutemen look to avoid three straight losses with pair against Vermont -

January 10, 2018

Men’s and women’s track and field open seasons at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2018

Turnovers and poor shooting hurt UMass women’s basketball in another conference loss at St. Bonaventure -

January 8, 2018

Shorthanded, UMass men’s basketball shocks Dayton with 62-60 win -

January 7, 2018

Northampton City Council elects Ryan O’Donnell as new council president -

January 7, 2018

UMass power play stays hot but Minutemen lose 8-3 to UMass Lowell -

January 7, 2018

UMass hockey falls to UMass Lowell in 8-3 blowout -

January 7, 2018

UMass hockey falls short against Yale in 5-3 loss Friday -

January 5, 2018

Otis Livingston II, George Mason drop UMass men’s basketball 80-72 -

January 3, 2018

Johnston: UMass fails to earn first conference win against George Mason -

January 3, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy

(Collegian File Photo)

A federal lawsuit was filed against the University of Massachusetts on Monday, Jan. 8, by the Young Americans for Liberty, a conservative student activism group, and UMass student Nicholas Consolini. According to the lawsuit, the University’s Speech Zone Policy violates the First and 14th Amendment.

The defendants include the UMass Board of Trustees, UMass President Marty Meehan, Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life, Enku Gelaye.

Speeches and rallies are banned on UMass property unless they are conducted in front of the University’s Student Union building between the hours of noon and 1 p.m. Violation of this rule could result in possible expulsion.

According to the lawsuit, “The University does not define ‘speeches and rallies’ and therefore reserves to itself the discretion to determine when expression becomes a ‘speech’ or a ‘rally’ and when it does not.”

The lawsuit claims the University’s Speech Zone Policy violates the First Amendment because it prohibits the plaintiffs from conducting speeches or rallies outside of the limited one hour time zone in a small area of the campus.

The document also states the plaintiff, Consolini, wishes to engage in speeches or rallies outside of the permitted University time zone and has already purchased more than $20 worth of material for speech and rally-like activity. However, he is unable to use them due to the University restrictions.

Additionally, the policy “…grants unbridled discretion to unreasonably limit and punish speech outside the small location and time permitted if an administrator deems the expression to be a ‘speech or rally.’”

The lawsuit also states that the defendant’s Speech Zone Policy violates the 14th Amendment.

“The lack of criteria, factors, or standards in Defendants’ Speech Zone Policy renders the policy and practice unconstitutionally vague in violation of Plaintiffs’ right to due process,” states the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also states that the University has been warned of the policy’s unconstitutionality. On December 29, 2010, Attorney Mari Grace Chamberlain of the Alliance Defense Fund, an American conservative Christian nonprofit organization, sent a letter to now former Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Jo-Anne T. Vanin, detailing the policy’s alleged civil liberty violations.

In an email sent on Wednesday, UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski commented on the lawsuit saying, “The University’s policies regarding such events are in accordance with the United States Supreme Court’s longstanding acceptance of content-neutral restrictions on the time, place and manner of such speech. These policies provide a substantial opportunity for public speech while allowing the campus community to continue to conduct academic, business and other activities.”

Blaguszewski also included a link to UMass student demonstration guidelines, including the Picketing Code and the Regulations for Use of Property, before encouraging students to exercise their First Amendment rights.

“We are proud of our community’s tradition of activism and we support it.” Blaguszewski said.

Alvin Buyinza can be reached at abuyinza@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @abuyinza_news.

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