Textbook: Kaplin, W. A., & Lee, B. A. (2014). The law of higher education, student version
(5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Using your favorite Internet search tool, search for "Berkeley in the 1960s" to locate and
review information related to free speech on the University of California, Berkeley,
campus in the 1960s. A good resource is available from the California Heritage
Collection at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley. The issues at Berkeley and other colleges
and universities during that time gave the courts reason to help define parameters of
free speech on campuses.
As Kaplin & Lee (2013) noted, "The government may impose restrictions regarding the
‘time, place, or manner’ of the expressive activity in a public forum” (p. 478). But, to
Gromble State University (GSU) prides itself on diversity, innovation, free thinking, and
open-mindedness. Because of this culture, GSU has experienced its share of sit-ins,
demonstrations, protests, and marches over the years. Nothing has been serious, and
on occasion, these actions have led to significant changes.
The student newspaper, The Weakly Vu, is financially supported by the institution and is
very popular with students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The paper has a tradition
of presenting perspectives that reflect the GSU community: views not commonly held by
mainstream society. The newspaper's "editorials," the administration feels, have been
promoting damaging and disruptive positions that are inconsistent with the purpose of
the paper and mission of the institution. At issue is a disciplinary action that GSU took
against a student for posts the student and his spouse made on Facebook that were
critical of the administration and a faculty member. The student was threatened with
expulsion from GSU and did not receive the due process the student believed was
required. When the student was unable to resolve the situation with GSU’s
administration or the faculty member involved, the student took the complaint to The
Weakly Vu, which ran an article about the student’s situation. GSU’s administration
complained to The Weakly Vu about the content of the article, claiming there was a
confidentiality issue related to student discipline and indicated that the staff could face
discipline themselves if the article wasn’t retracted and if the newspaper staff did not
refrain from discussing the issue further. In addition, GSU has considered more
administrative oversight of the paper. The student editor published an editorial
challenging GSU’s action in the original student’s case and complaining that indicating
the staff could face discipline was a violation of the newspaper staff’s freedom of
speech and freedom of the press.
Before implementing the decision, administrators want to review legal issues: not just
those that might concern freedom of speech or press, but other constitutional rights as
well. To do so, they have assembled an ad hoc committee to review the issue and make
a decision for how it should be addressed.
Take on the role of University President/Chair or Board of Governors and answer
the following questions:
● What specific constitutional issues are involved in this scenario, and what
other constitutional issues might arise? What issues do you need to
address based on the role you have taken?
● How would you — in your role — respond to this issue?
● How should other university administrators or students deal with the
● Articulate a decision to resolve the issue.
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