University ends restrictive campus speech policy after student group's lawsuit

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst changed a restrictive campus speech policy that a libertarian student group called “unconstitutional,” putting an end to a months-long legal battle.

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) at UMass and student Nicholas Consolini, represented by the legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a lawsuit in January in district court against the public university for a rule that restricted “speeches and rallies” to less than one percent of the campus and only between noon and 1 p.m. each day on one side of the student union.

“The only permission slip students need to speak on campus is the First Amendment,” ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton said in statement. “We commend YAL and these brave students for taking a stand and causing UMass to remove this speech zone that never should have existed in the first place.”

University spokesperson Mary Dettloff told Fox News they dropped the 30-year-old rule because “it is rarely, if ever, enforced and could be misinterpreted as a restriction on free speech.”

YAL and Consolini voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit after the Board of Trustees made the changes to the speech policy.

“Restricting free speech rights to one hour a day on less than 1 percent of the campus is unconstitutional, no questions asked,” YAL President Cliff Maloney Jr. said in a statement. “I applaud the UMass Board for their decision and hope this change will spark a wave of policy reform on college campuses across the country.”

YAL has sued other colleges over similar speech policies.