California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly): Use of Disruption Claim to Suppress Free Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: California Polytechnic State University

In a major victory for free speech on campus, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has abandoned its attempt to punish a student for posting a flier on a public bulletin board. The flier merely announced a campus speech, but some students at the campus Multicultural Center found the flier "offensive." Cal Poly has agreed to expunge student Steve Hinkle’s disciplinary record relating to the incident, to cease interfering with his right to post fliers, and to pay significant attorney’s fees. The settlement of the lawsuit ends a victorious year-long campaign organized by FIRE and the Center for Individual Rights to restore fundamental rights and liberties to this public university.

  • Student in San Luis Obispo ‘Tribune’ Hopeful for Cal Poly’s Future with Next President

    August 10, 2010

    The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, California, recently published a guest column by Brendan Pringle, a California Polytechnic State University junior and columnist for the Mustang Daily student newspaper. The article remarks on the retirement of long-serving Cal Poly president Warren Baker and looks forward to Cal Poly’s future. Baker’s record on free speech is marred by his mishandling of a 2002 incident in which student Steve Hinkle was punished for posting a flier on a public bulletin board to advertise a campus speaker. FIRE defended Hinkle, who won a settlement from Cal Poly. Pringle recounts the Hinkle case and its […]

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  • Liberal Bias against Campus Conservatives Confronted

    October 22, 2004

    The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy hosted its annual policy conference at North Carolina State University last Saturday on October 16, 2004. The topic: “Freedom and the American Campus.” All-star panels articulated the reality of liberal bias on college campuses, and debated possible solutions. Notables included David Horowitz of FrontPageMag.com, former U.S. House Historian Dr. Christina Jeffrey, and David French of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). During the conference, it was reported that a memo was circulating among the faculty and administration of N.C. State warning against the nefarious nature of Horowitz and the […]

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  • No Myth: Conservatives in Academia Suffer Discrimination

    October 15, 2004

    In a recent Sun column, (“Reclaim Your Victimhood,” Sept. 24), Danny Pearlstein, skeptical of the notion that conservatives in academia suffer discrimination, challenged conservatives “to send me concrete instances” of such. As the French would say, “chiche!” — dare accepted. Pearlstein’s challenge was, at least from his perspective, ill-timed. For within 48 hours came a glaring example of anti-conservative discrimination at Cornell, courtesy of the Student Assembly(SA): The SA’s blatantly political attempt to defund The Cornell American, one of the very few conservative student groups on campus. The attempted defunding was done in reliance on a newly-adopted, ex post facto […]

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  • The Good and The Bad (Plus Some Ugly)

    October 11, 2004

    Today’s college campus is a study in contrasts. Professors and administrators cling to their grotesque orthodoxies, but students seem to be getting saner by the year. What follows are five of the most outrageous campus incidents of the last academic year, then five of the most heartening acts of courage. The conservative-speaker double standard is almost an academic institution. At Bucknell University, administrators refused a student group’s request to invite Republican congressman and Senate hopeful Pat Toomey to give a speech, arguing that his appearance would violate a school policy against electioneering on campus. Meanwhile, Bucknell paid presidential candidate Ralph […]

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  • Major Victory for Free Speech at Cal Poly

    May 6, 2004

    SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA—In a major victory for liberty and equal rights on campus, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has settled a free speech lawsuit. The case involved Cal Poly student Steve Hinkle, who was punished for posting a flier on a public bulletin board announcing a College Republicans-sponsored speech by a black social critic. Some students at the campus Multicultural Center found the flier “offensive.” Cal Poly has agreed to expunge Hinkle’s disciplinary record relating to the incident, to permit him to post fliers, and to pay significant attorney’s fees. The settlement of the lawsuit ends a year-long […]

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  • Cal Poly Settles Suit by Student

    May 6, 2004

    A Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student who sued the school for allegedly violating his 1st Amendment rights reached a settlement with the university this week. The school promised to expunge Steve Hinkle’s disciplinary record and to pay $40,000 in legal fees. Hinkle, a 23-year-old industrial technology major, was reprimanded in November 2002 after several students complained that fliers he had posted in the school’s multicultural center were offensive.Hinkle, president of the Cal Poly College Republican Club, was advertising a speech by Mason Weaver, the author of “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation.”Weaver argues that reliance on government aid enslaves […]

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  • Academia’s shame

    November 2, 2003

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  • Thor Halvorssen and Steve Hinkle on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes

    July 8, 2003

    Thor Halvorssen and Steve Hinkle on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes Transcript, originally aired July 8, 2003 HANNITY: …a California Polytech student was charged and found guilty of a disruption of a campus event after posting a flier advertising a speech by Mason Weaver, the author of the new book “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation.” Now some students reportedly complained that the flier offended them. We contacted the school today and they dispute many of the statements written about this case in recent articles, and they also said federal student privacy laws prevent them from talking about this until […]

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  • School, student settle flier suit

    May 11, 2003

    California Polytechnic State University has settled a lawsuit with a student who was disciplined for posting a flier more than a year ago that some students said was offensive.“This sends a message to college administrators that says you can’t censor speech by re-characterizing it,” said Curt Levey, one of the attorneys in the case and a spokesman for the nonprofit law firm that represented the student, Steve Hinkle.University counsel Carlos Cordova said, “Cal Poly has believed throughout it could have successfully defended against this lawsuit,” but that “Cal Poly entered into the agreement to avoid the cost of further litigation.” […]

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