VIDEO: Conservative students told by police to stop tabling
A Turning Point USA group at Georgia Southern University got scolded by various individuals -- including campus police officers -- for attempting to table on campus.
An administrator told students that, even for the campus "free speech area," tabling requests must be made days in advance.
Students tabling for Georgia Southern University’s chapter of Turning Point USA were told by both the school’s administration and campus police that they had to jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops in order to table on campus.
In an audio recording, obtained by Campus Reform, an individual can be heard telling the students “it’s not a matter of reserving the spot. It’s just in order to be on campus doing stuff like this, you have to abide by the campus rules….you have to like, fill out the paperwork.”
The students also go into a building to talk to an administrator, who explains to them the school policy against “soliciting.”
“There is a free speech area, but you have to reserve it,” she tells the students, adding “you can’t just show up on campus because that’s when the soliciting starts happening.”
When the students offer to move to the “free speech area,” the administrator explains that they would have had to reserve the space in advance and that such a reservation would take “probably two to three days for us to process.” She then offers to email the students a copy of the school’s policy against “soliciting,” adding that if the students were to reserve the space, they would have to use the school’s equipment for tabling “so you don’t look different from the rest of the people.”
A video shows student university employees first telling the tabling students that even if they were to use the campus “free speech zone” for their efforts, they would still be required to reserve the space.
“This is our space, so in order for that to happen, we’d have to reserve it out to you,” one of the student workers explains. When the students cite the First Amendment, he informs them that he is currently taking a constitutional law class at Georgia Southern, and goes on to explain that by not reserving the space in advance, the students are infringing upon the First Amendment rights of others who may have reserved the space.
The students move their activities to the free speech zone, but to no avail. The video shows them then being approached by campus police, who respond to their assertion that they are within their First Amendment rights by citing “the university’s policy.”
One officer clarifies that the students cannot be arrested if they refuse to move, but he clarifies that they will be “judicially referred” and required to appear in front of the dean of students for violating school policy.
“If you’re asking me about laws...” the officer clarifies, “I don’t know of any of the laws you’re breaking. But you are breaking a school policy,” before he ultimately asks the students to leave and try to return the following day with a reservation.
GSU student Miller Harp was among the students attempting to table. He told Campus Reform that once campus police arrived, they “didn’t do anything except tell us that, even in the free speech zone, the school still was kicking us off campus,” a statement that he found “contradictory to what the student workers had said about the First Amendment.”
According to Harp, regardless of the threats from the school, the police did not force them to vacate the premises. However, it is yet to be seen whether or not the students will face disciplinary action, as the officers warned.
When Campus Reform reached out to Georgia Southern for comment on the incident, the school offered no comment other than a link to its “Freedom of Expression Policy,” which states that “students, faculty, and staff are free to express their views, individually or in organized groups, orally, by sign or exhibit, on any topic, in all parts of the campus. Persons not affiliated with the university are free to express their views orally, by sign or exhibit, on any topic in the Designated Public Forum Area,” noting that “these expressions are subject only to rules necessary to preserve equal rights of others and the functions of the University teaching, research, and other official functions of the University shall have priority in allocating the use of space on campus.”
The document also notes that requests to use the “Designated Public Forum Area” must be submitted at least 48 hours before the event.
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