University of North Carolina at Greensboro: Punishment of Free Speech Protestors

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: University of North Carolina – Greensboro

When College Libertarians members Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott protested against the University of North Carolina at Greenboro’s free speech zone policy they were charged with a “violation of Respect” for refusing an order to stop their protest for being outside the designated free speech zones. FIRE wrote to UNCG Chancellor Patricia Sullivan explaining UNCG’s restrictions on free speech were contrary to the First Amendment. After FIRE became involved, Jaynes and Sinnott received notice from the university that the charges had been dropped. FIRE also learned that the chancellor established a committee to reexamine the university’s “free speech zone” policy.

  • The AHA’s Double Standard on Academic Freedom

    August 9, 2013

    by David Beito, Ralph Luker and Robert “K. C.” Johnson Perspectives (American Historical Association)   Has the AHA turned its back on academic freedom? In January, members present at its business meeting rejected a resolution to condemn attacks on academic freedom, whether from the right or from the left. Instead, they passed a weaker resolution that selectively condemned only threats coming from the right.We weighed into this controversy as part of a three person “left/right” coalition for academic freedom. Our chances were slim and we knew it. Only in December did we learn that the AHA business meeting would consider […]

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  • Free-speech zones on campus at issue

    December 17, 2006

    Two students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro face disciplinary hearings for staging a protest about the campus “free-speech zones” outside the free-speech zones. The students, Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott, helped organize the rally of about 40 people Nov. 16 on a lawn in front of the campus library, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in Philadelphia, which has intervened on the students’ behalf. When a school official told Jaynes to move to a free-speech zone, she refused and was later charged, along with Sinnott, with a campus violation. Jaynes, a senior physics major, […]

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  • UNC-G loses ground in free speech battle

    January 19, 2006

    Two UNC-Greensboro students recently charged with violating the university’s free speech policy are no longer in jeopardy of facing legal action. Administrators reprimanded Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott on Nov. 16 during their protest of the university’s free speech zones. Officials asked the students to move their demonstration to one of the two free speech zones on campus. The students refused, citing the First Amendment. UNC-G’s free speech zones were challenged again in December with the release of a report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Robert Shibley, FIRE’s program manager, said the group has successfully challenged restrictions […]

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  • UNCG in free speech battle

    December 17, 2005

    Two UNC-Greensboro students face discipline for protesting outside the university’s designated “free speech and assembly areas,” based on a policy that a national civil liberties organization calls unconstitutional. The students, Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott, were charged with a “violation of respect” under the student code of conduct at UNC-Greensboro after a Nov. 16 protest attended by about 40 people. The two students face disciplinary action that could range from a warning to a probation with restrictions. The demonstration outside the library by UNCG College Libertarians was aimed specifically at the university’s policy governing the location of protests on campus. […]

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  • Protest outside free speech zone lands students in trouble

    December 16, 2005

    Two University of North Carolina at Greensboro students face disciplinary hearings for staging a protest about the campus “free speech zones” outside the free speech zones. The students, Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott, helped organize the rally of about 40 people Nov. 16 on a lawn in front of the campus library, according to the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has intervened on the students’ behalf. When a school official told Jaynes to move to a free speech zone, she refused and was later charged, along with Sinnott, with a campus violation. Jaynes, a senior physics major, […]

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  • College groups unite for free speech at UNCG

    February 1, 2006

    A controversy held over from the fall semester reemerged last week on the UNCG campus as student political groups protested and administrators scrutinized an embattled speech policy. College Republicans and Democrats joined the College Libertarians Jan. 26 for a protest in front of Jackson Library, which is not one of the designated areas for political activity. More than a dozen students braved the cold, windy weather to raise awareness and circulate a petition to have the policy changed. The UNCG Facility Use Policy designates the east lawn in front of the Elliot University Center and outside the Foust building as […]

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  • First Amendment covers campuses, too

    January 22, 2006

    The First Amendment creates a free speech and assembly zone from one end of the United States to the other. Except at UNCG. University rules permit outdoor assemblies without prior approval only in two areas on campus. Even then, administrators must be given 48 hours’ notice. Fortunately, that policy is under review — just in time to prevent a legal challenge. Two students, members of College Libertarians, led a peaceful protest in front of Jackson Library in November and were charged with code-of-conduct violations. The proposed disciplinary actions against seniors Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott were dismissed Jan. 13. The […]

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  • Honor code charges against UNCG students dropped

    January 18, 2006

    GREENSBORO — UNCG has dropped honor code charges against two students who protested in areas of campus other than those defined as free speech zones, according to the accused students and an education advocacy group. Student Code of Conduct violations were dropped against 23-year-old UNCG seniors Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott for refusing to move when told to do so by a university official. The case began after a November protest organized by the College Libertarians to object to the university’s specified free speech zones. During the three-hour protest, about 50 students gathered in front of Jackson Library — which […]

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  • UNC Greensboro Drops All Charges Against Free Speech Protestors

    January 17, 2006

    GREENSBORO, N.C., January 17, 2006—Bowing to public pressure, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) has dropped charges against two students who led a peaceful protest against the university’s policy of quarantining free speech to small areas of campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) brought UNCG’s repression to light in December. “It’s about time that UNCG realized the error of its ways,” declared Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s interim president. “Punishing students for having the courage to protest the university’s unconstitutional rules would have been an exercise in tyranny.” This resounding victory for free speech came just days […]

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  • Colleges to avoid, Part III

    January 17, 2006

    It probably comes as no surprise that the third university in my “colleges to avoid” series is located in North Carolina. Recently, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy published a report criticizing the UNC system for its blatant in intolerance of free expression. Of the sixteen campuses in the system, only one university – Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) – was not criticized in the report. While students in North Carolina may want to consider attending ECSU, they would do well to avoid The University of North Carolina at Greensboro […]

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  • E-mail from UNC Greensboro Asst. Dean of Students Brett Carter to Allison Jaynes, January 13, 2006

    January 13, 2006

    To:  Allison Jaynes [e-mail address redacted] Cc: Bcc: Subject:  Letter Katie Brown KRBROWN2/facultystaff/uncg 01/13/2006 04:03 PM January 13, 2006 Allison N. Jaynes [Mailing address redacted] Case #:  [Redacted] Dear Ms. Jaynes: The charges of the violations of Respect under the Student Code of Conduct, specifically, “failure to comply with the direction of a University official” and “violation of the University’s facilities use policy” have been dismissed.  No further conduct action will be taken by our office with regard to these charges. I wish you well in your future endeavors at UNCG. Sincerely, Brett A. Carter Assistant Dean of Students cc: Attorney General, […]

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  • Report: School limits on free speech illegal

    January 11, 2006

    RALEIGH – Some public universities in North Carolina impose unconstitutional limits on freedom of speech, a report issued Tuesday said. The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released the report. “It’s a public school system,” Greg Lukianoff, interim president of the foundation, said at a news conference in the Legislative Building. “It’s bound by the First Amendment.” One example cited in the report was a prohibition by Fayetteville State University on vulgar language. Another example was the prohibition on “disrespect for persons” at UNCG. Later this month, UNCG will hold an honor […]

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  • UNC Greensboro Persecutes Students for Demanding Freedom of Speech

    December 15, 2005

    GREENSBORO, N.C., December 15, 2005—The University of North Carolina–Greensboro (UNCG) is attempting to discipline two students for peacefully protesting outside two small “free speech zones” on campus. Ironically, the students were actually protesting the existence of those zones, which unconstitutionally restrict free speech. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has intervened on the students’ behalf. “These students chose a very effective way to draw attention to UNCG’s unjust and unnecessary restrictions on freedom of speech,” remarked FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Greg Lukianoff. “It is shameful that they are now threatened with punishment for their peaceful […]

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  • FIRE Letter to UNC Greensboro Chancellor Patricia Sullivan, December 5, 2005

    December 5, 2005

    December 5, 2005 Chancellor Patricia A. Sullivan University of North Carolina at Greensboro 303 Mossman Building P.O. Box 26170 Greensboro, NC 27402-6170 Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (336-256-0408)   Dear Chancellor Sullivan: As you can see from our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, freedom of religion, academic freedom, due process, and, in this case, freedom of speech and expression on America’s college campuses. […]

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