EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Conservatives told to 'pack up and head on out' on public college campus

  • A pair of conservatives were told to "pack up and head on out" while recruiting student activists at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
  • The two were tabling in an attempt to recruit conservative students to take part in conservative activism when the exchange was caught on camera.

A pair of conservative activists in New Hampshire were told to "pack up" while tabling on a public college campus because they did not get permission and were not in a "free speech area." 

Video obtained exclusively by Campus Reform shows Leadership Institute Field Representative Matthew Pearson and Turning Point USA Field Representative Sam Lee at Keene State College, standing in front of a table while recruiting students to take part in conservative activism. 

"Pack up and head on out"   

The Leadership Institute is the parent organization of Campus Reform

Pearson and Lee were approached by a man who identified himself as the "associate director of campus safety" and asked them who gave them permission to be there to which one of them responded, "no one yet."  

That's when the "associate director of campus safety," a title whose existence at Keene State Campus Reform could not confirm, told them to "pack up and head on out." 

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Students say administrators shut down free speech petition table]

When Pearson and Lee reminded the man of the fact that they were on a public college campus, the individual acknowledged that was the case, but also stated, "you cannot do this without permission from the college." 

The "associate director of campus safety" continued by telling Pearson and Lee that "we welcome everyone," but that "everyone has to play by the same rules," mentioning an Elizabeth Warren supporter who was also on campus at the time. He added that once Pearson and Lee went through the proper channels to gain permission to table on the public college campus, they would then be allowed to recruit students in a "free speech area."

 

Nicole Neily, president of Speech First, reacted to the video, telling Campus Reform, "it's astonishing that in 2019, public universities still maintain and enforce free speech zones. Groups like Alliance Defending Freedom challenge free speech zone policies on a regular basis, and they've won virtually every case. In the face of case law like that, it seems foolhardy for public schools to maintain policies like these on the books."

"There's a reason that the campus free bills passed by state legislatures across the country abolish campus free speech zones," Neily added, "because they are fundamentally un-American."

[RELATED: MAP: 28 states and counting have introduced or passed campus free speech legislation]

Nicole Ligon, supervising attorney at Duke First Amendment Law Clinic, had a different opinion. 

"It's clear that the conservative activists were engaged in peaceful political expression, so to the extent that they were asked to leave due to anything other than the existence of a reasonable time, place, manner restriction that has been applied in a viewpoint-neutral way, that would be problematic," she told Campus Reform.

"It does, however, sound like this policy has likely been applied in a viewpoint-neutral manner based on the comment about a pro-Warren activist also being asked to leave recently," she added.

With regard to what she called reasonable restrictions, Ligon observed, "there doesn’t seem to be a lot of people passing by, and it does not appear that there’s a significant risk, at least of that moment, that the tablers are blocking traffic or could create a hazardous traffic situation, but the school is still permitted to place certain limited restrictions on speech where those risks reasonably exist."

Keene State College did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JonStreetDC and Twitter: @JonStreet



STAY INFORMED
Get exclusive access to breaking CampusReform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we'll keep you in the loop.
 Weekly Digest

 Daily Emails

Jon Street
Jon Street | Managing Editor

Jon Street is a news editor for Campus Reform. Six years ago, Jon cut his reporting teeth fresh out of college as an intern at Media Research Center's CNSNews.com, where he interviewed multiple members of Congress and former presidential candidates. From there, he went on to complete a stint at Watchdog.org, where his exclusive, investigative work was picked up or cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, National Review, and the Drudge Report, among others. More recently, Jon spent three years as an assistant editor at TheBlaze.com. In his free time, Jon enjoys trying new coffeehouses around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and traveling back to his home state of Missouri to spend time with his family.

20 Articles by Jon Street