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Dixie State University Suspends Speech Restrictions in Wake of Suit by 3 Students

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Young Americans for Liberty
One of 3 posters by William Jergins, Joey Gillespie and Forrest Gee alleged to have been restricted by DSU administration.

A lawsuit by three Dixie State University students against the school has resulted in the suspension of what the students call unconstitutional free speech codes on campus.

The suit was filed in federal court in March. It focuses on DSU’s flyer approval process and posting policy, the defined free speech zone, and club event policies. Attorneys for the non-profit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE are supporting the suit. Catherine Sevcenko is an associate director of litigation for FIRE. She says their organization works with universities around the country on First Amendment problems.

“It’s a national scandal to be quite honest. FIRE has a database of over 400 universities, says Sevcenko, “We rate their speech codes every year and more than half of them have what we call a ‘red light.’”

Sevcenko says often school administrations start out with good intentions in codes to make students feel safe but campuses are not meant to be places where people are protected from other peoples’ ideas.

Jyl Hall is Dixie’s Publications Specialist. In reading the statement from the school she confirmed attorneys for DSU and the students have expressed interest in working together to improve DSU speech policies.

“Council for DSU and DSU administrators are in the process of reviewing DSU policies in light of existing Constitutional Law defined areas of improvement.”

A statement from Dixie President Richard B. Williams questioned why the students went to such drastic measures before bringing their concerns to him.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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