UC Speech Policy Unconstitutional, Oppressive

In its meeting last month the UC Board of Regents approved new systemwide regulations, dramatically changing the university’s free speech policy — nonaffiliates are now banned from spontaneous public assembly on the university’s 10 campuses. This blatant and disgusting disregard for the Constitution’s First Amendment was inexplicably pushed through the regents’ finance committee, with minimal consideration of public input or notice for students.

Aside from how offensive this unconstitutional policy change is, it’s also absurd. The university is a public entity, funded largely by taxpayer dollars. How can the regents expect to exclude citizens from a resource they fund? Limiting the free exchange of ideas at the university is nothing if not detrimental to its students. Supporters of the measure argue that nonaffiliates are sometimes bothersome, preaching to co-eds. But a real-world education exposes students to new ideas, some of which they may find uncomfortable. In addition to being arguably illegal, the new policy artificially isolates the university — it’s all harm and no good.

This policy approval comes amid wage negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which have sparked several on-campus protests. While the university denies that this influenced the change, it’s obvious how convenient the regulations are for regents, now allowing them to silence nonaffiliate protests with the threat of legal action.

Both the committee currently reviewing UCSD’s free speech policy and the A.S. Council have already expressed outrage over the decision. But UC Office of the President spokesman Trey Davis defended the new systemwide policy, asserting that “several changes” were made in response to input from both the public and UC community. Davis’ claims are as outrageous and laughable as the unconstitutional policy he’s attempting to support. Attachment C of the UCOP finance committee report recommending the policy adoption is a 12-page list of such comments, the vast majority of which express objection to or concern over the banning of nonaffiliates. Each of these comments received the same response: “The university has determined that these comments do not warrant a revision of the proposed regulations.”

This university decision is as corrupt as it is shocking, severely calling into question the credibility and validity of the UC Board of Regents.