Texas Tech University

Location: Lubbock, Texas
Website: http://www.ttu.edu
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 5th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

Texas Tech University has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

  • Texas Tech University: Speech Code Litigation

    February 6, 2003

    FIRE intervened at Texas Tech when students recognized its overbroad policies, which include a speech code that prohibited "insults," "ridicule," and "personal attacks," and restricted free speech to twenty foot-diameter gazebo referred to as a "Free Speech Zone." With FIRE’s coordination and support, along with the Liberty Legal Institute and the Alliance Defense Fund, the students successfully sought and achieved elimination of the overbroad speech code. Covered widely in the media, the case at Texas Tech also drew support from over 900 students, who signed a petition for free speech on campus, as well as a student organization, Students for […]

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Red Light Policies

Yellow Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Solicitations, Advertisements and Printed Materials 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Posting Policies, Statement

    Printed materials shall not include the use of obscenities,
    libelous statements, or "fighting words," as defined by law.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Anti-Discrimination Policy 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Discriminatory harassment is verbal or
    physical conduct based on a student’s sex,
    race, national origin, religion, age, disability,
    sexual orientation, or
    other protected categories, classes, or
    characteristics and is so severe, persistent,
    or pervasive it adversely affects the victim’s
    education or creates an intimidating, hostile,
    abusive or offensive educational environment
    which interferes with the victim’s ability to
    realize the intended benefits of the university’s
    resources and opportunities.

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  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Expression Activities and Forum Areas 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility, Statement

    Students engaged in freedom of expression activities may be
    subject to discipline under the Code of Student Conduct for the
    following actions: ... Activities that include the use of obscenities, libelous
    statements, or "fighting words," as defined by law.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Misconduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Sexual misconduct is
    nonconsensual conduct of a sexual nature
    includes, but is not limited to: ... Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that are unwelcome and
    expressly or implicitly imposes conditions upon, threatens, interferes with, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning
    environment for an individual’s (1) academic
    pursuits, (2) university employment,
    (3) participation in organizations or groups related to the University, (4) participation in activities sponsored by
    the university or (5)
    opportunities to benefit from other aspects
    of university life.

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  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Misconduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of self
    or others, including, but not limited to, acts such as physical
    assault, physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, discriminatory harassment,
    harassment, and/or coercion.

    » Read More

  • Student Handbook: Code of Student Conduct- Misconduct 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, Statement

    Purposely engaging in activity that may harass,
    intimidate, threaten, endanger, or abuse others ....

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Green Light Policies
  • Student Handbook: Freedom of Expression Activities and Forum Areas 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    The open exchange of information, opinions, and ideas between students
    is an essential element of the campus experience. These policies are
    intended to protect the interests of all students as well as other members
    of the university community. These policies presume that students are
    generally free to engage in freedom of expression activities in those
    outdoor areas of campus that are common and accessible to all students
    (such as park-like areas and sidewalks) without the need of prior approval
    of the university.

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  • Student Handbook: Rights and Responsibilities of Students in the Academic Community- Citizenship 13-14

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    As members of the academic community, university students enjoy the privileges and share the obligations of the larger community of which the university is a part. ... Freedom of discussion, inquiry and
    expression is protected and nurtured in the classroom as the safeguard of
    the freedom to learn.

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  • Hell no, we won’t go

    August 9, 2013

    Tech’s free-speech campus gives students outlet to voice opinions by Andrew Wood The Daily Toreador (Texas Tech Univ.)   Global injustice. Gay marriage. War or no war. Spreading the Christian gospel.The free speech area at Texas Tech has been a forum for people to express their views on those topics and many other topics most people might not even know about. While some events are a peaceful protest, others end up with an atmosphere much like a World Wrestling Entertainment battle royal. The latest exhibition was an Injustice Wall, placed there by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a Tech student organization, earlier […]

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  • FIRE Applauds University of Nevada-Reno’s Dropping of ‘Speech Zones’

    August 9, 2013

    by Jim Brown Agape Press The University of Nevada at Reno (UNR) has eliminated so-called “speech zones” that limited student expression on campus. The university’s previous policy had designated only four small or remote areas on its grounds as “public forum” spaces while explicitly deeming the rest of the campus a non-public forum. The new policy adopted by the university, however, allows students to use the entire campus — except for the interior of buildings — to demonstrate, protest, or pass out flyers and newspapers. Student activists working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the Foundation for […]

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  • Tech rates low when it comes to campus free speech

    February 8, 2012

    College campuses in the Lone Star State got an “F” on a report card from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE. More than 80-percent of Texas college campuses, including Texas Tech received a red light rating.  Director of Speech Code Research with FIRE Samantha Harris said Texas schools have a lot of work to do. “Texas has a long way to go to when it comes to protecting student speech on campus,” she said. “We rate universities by red light, yellow light, green light depending upon how much speech they restrict that would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment and the […]

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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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  • Free speech policy called into question

    October 24, 2005

    As an American citizen, one has a constitutional right to have and state opinions, but officials at college campuses around the country say there is a time and a place for it. This issue is not foreign to San Diego State. Free speech zones began to appear on college campuses during the 1980s as a way for university administrators to allow students to voice their opinions and put on demonstrations without inhibiting the surrounding learning environment, according to a May 2003 Associated Press article ,”Schools under fire for ‘free speech zones.’” But many believe the idea of “free-speech zones” on […]

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  • FIRE Chalks Up Another Victory for Students’ Free-Speech Rights

    May 16, 2005

    The State University of New York at Brockport has agreed to repeal its speech code. It is the fourth consecutive victory for a Philadelphia-based group in its campaign against such codes on America’s public college and university campuses. Last June, with help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), two students in the College Republican Club filed a federal lawsuit alleging that SUNY Brockport’s anti-harassment policies violated their free-speech rights. Under Brockport’s speech code, examples of harassment included “cartoons that depict religious figures in compromising situations,” calling someone an “old bag,” and “jokes … making fun of any […]

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  • Colleges Must Educate Students About Value of Free Speech

    December 29, 2004

    For those of you who are concerned about the state of free expression on campus, I would like to introduce you to Texas Tech University’s “Free Speech Gazebo.” The Gazebo is only 20 feet wide, and in early 2003, it was the sole area on campus where students could engage in free-speech activities – demonstrations, speeches or even handing out pamphlets – without clearing it with the university a minimum of six days in advance.   To illustrate the lunacy of this policy, I asked one of my friends, who has a math degree from MIT, how tightly you would […]

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  • Federal judge blocks free speech zones at Texas Tech

    October 2, 2004

    A federal judge has struck down a policy at Texas Tech requiring students to make public speeches in special free-speech zones.The ruling by U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2003 by two civil liberties groups on behalf of Jason Roberts, a former law student who has since graduated.The lawsuit claimed that the one location that Tech designated as a free-speech zone – a 20-foot wide gazebo that can hold about 40 people – and a policy that required a permit for speech at other campus locations were restrictive and violated students’ First and Fourteenth Amendments. […]

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  • Confronting the campus radicals

    January 7, 2004

    David Horowitz thinks that anybody who cares about the future should confront the fact that U.S. colleges and universities are the fountainhead of financing for the radical movement in America. He has personally taken up the challenge to do something about this.Horowitz was a left-wing campus activist in the 1960s, but he says that men who were too radical even for him and Ramparts, the magazine he edited in the 1960s, now hold tenure at major universities. During the 1970s, these hardcore leftists achieved critical mass on university faculties, took control of hiring committees, and then saw to it that […]

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  • Survey: many college students fuzzy on first amendment rights

    January 1, 2004

    PHILADELPHIA — One out of four college students in a nationwide survey was unable to name any of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment, according to a free-speech watchdog group.“These survey results are disheartening, but they unfortunately are not surprising,” says Alan Charles Kors, president of the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).Even among campus administrators who were surveyed, from presidents to assistant deans, 11 percent couldn’t name any specific First Amendment rights, the survey indicated. And when asked which freedom the amendment addresses first, only 2 percent of the students and 6 percent of the administrators […]

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  • Hearing Today in ‘Free Speech Zone’ Lawsuit in Texas

    January 12, 2010

    The Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) is reporting on today’s hearing in federal court regarding FIRE’s case at Tarrant County College (TCC). As Torch readers will remember, TCC violated the constitutional rights of student protesters who intended to participate in the national “Students for Concealed Carry on Campus” protest by wearing empty holsters—just like students around the country were doing. The students were told that they could not wear the holsters anywhere on campus and had to confine all protests to tiny “free speech zones.” Ultimately, with the help of FIRE and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the students […]

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  • FIRE’s Will Creeley Discusses Texas Tech’s Speech Code Rating on Local News Broadcast

    December 16, 2009

    Yesterday, FOX34 News in Lubbock, Texas, ran a segment on Texas Tech University’s “red-light” rating in FIRE’s Spotlight database. The university earned this rating because of language in its policy on e-mail and computer use that restricts freedom of expression by stating that The use of computers and the network is a privilege, not a right–a privilege that may be temporarily or even permanently revoked at any time for abusive conduct. Such conduct would include … the use of abusive or otherwise objectionable language in either public or private messages …..  Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, […]

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  • Organization battling Tech on freedom of speech rights

    December 15, 2009

    Some of Tech’s policies are drawing fire from FIRE the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. In 2004, this national organization coordinated a successful legal challenge resulting in expanded free speech zones on Tech’s campus and a re-write of the university’s speech code. Now FIRE is giving Tech a “red light” rating for policies it deems restricts freedom of expression by students and faculty using university computers and email. FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley says the issue is policy dependence on subjective standards. “By granting university administrators the power to decide what speech is and is not objectionable, the […]

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  • Universities’ Compliance with Speech Code Decisions Leaves Much to Be Desired

    September 24, 2009

    FIRE’s newest Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellow is Erica Goldberg. Erica is a graduate of Tufts University, where she was editor-in-chief of Tufts’ weekly newspaper, and of Stanford Law School, where she was a member of the moot court board. She also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald L. Gilman on the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, where she was confronted with various deprivations of freedom of expression. Before becoming a Robert H. Jackson fellow, Erica worked for two years as an appellate attorney at Latham & Watkins in Washington D.C. and then as […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Lawsuit Challenges Speech Code and “Free Speech Gazebo” at Texas Tech

    June 30, 2009

    One of the most important lawsuits ever coordinated by FIRE’s Speech Code Litigation Project was filed six years ago this June against Texas Tech University. The lawsuit challenged the university’s policies, which were “overbroad, vague, involve[d] content-based and viewpoint discrimination, and unconstitutionally restrict[ed] student speech.” Specifically, it challenged Texas Tech’s unconstitutional speech code and free speech zone. Texas Tech’s speech code banned “communications [that] humiliate any person.” The university’s examples of such punishable expression included “sexual innuendoes,” “referring to an adult as ‘girl,’ ‘boy,’ or ‘honey,’” or “sexual stories.” As bad as the speech code was, Texas Tech cemented its […]

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  • Questions Surround Proposed ‘Free Speech Zone’ at Northeastern Illinois University

    December 19, 2008

    Deanna Isaacs of the Chicago Reader reports troubling developments at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), a public university in Chicago. According to Isaacs, NEIU President Sharon K. Hahs has proposed instituting an unconstitutional free speech zone on the NEIU campus, with prior approval requirements that put an impermissible onus on students and faculty members seeking to exercise their constitutional rights of assembly and demonstration. FIRE has not yet seen Hahs’ proposed policy, but if Isaacs’ description is accurate the implications are breathtaking: Proposed by university president Sharon K. Hahs, the Policy Concerning Demonstrations on Campus, Distribution and Display of Visual Communications […]

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  • American Public Universities Take Cue from Singapore

    June 28, 2007

    When you think of a place where order takes precedence over liberty, where the government regulates every minute aspect of civil life, you may well think of Singapore. Over the years, Singapore has made the news for everything from caning an American teenager for vandalism to banning chewing gum to fining people for failing to flush public toilets. But if you think Singapore and the United States don’t have much in common, think again. We need only look to that supposed bastion of liberty—the American university—to find common ground.   Singapore maintains a Speakers’ Corner (you can see a picture

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  • Emmett Hogan on 2006: The More Things Change…?

    January 5, 2007

    Emmett Hogan is a student at University of Michigan Law School and a luminary early FIRE employee. As we looked back on 2006 in campus rights and abuses I wanted to check in with him for his thoughts on the past year in FIRE history. This was his thoughtful response: One of FIRE’s most gripping cases from 2006 involved a breathtaking exercise in thought reform by Michigan State University. FIRE publicly challenged what MSU calls a “Student Accountability in Community Seminar” (SAC) which is intended to address student behavior that administrators consider unacceptable; the seminar is successful only when it […]

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  • Speech Codes and the Future of Education

    March 1, 2006

    [March–April 2006 issue, vol. 40, no. 2.]

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  • Wronging student rights

    September 3, 2005

    As summer ends and college students return to campus, a number of dreadful court decisions may cause them to wonder if their rights have taken a permanent vacation. While the past decades have hardly been a golden age for student rights, there was good reason to be optimistic in recent years. Speech codes fell at colleges from New York to California, the Department of Education finally clarified that “harassment” does not mean just being offended, and Texas Tech University had to admit that its lone 20-foot-wide “free speech gazebo” was inadequate space for its 28,000 students to enjoy their First […]

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  • The Trouble with Free Speech Zones

    June 24, 2005

    The Daytona Beach News-Journal article that Charles discusses below highlights the controversy over many public universities’ “free speech zone” policies—policies that limit free speech to specific, and often tiny, areas of campus. FIRE President David French is quoted as saying that free speech zone policies are “very common”—“[i]t’s gotten to the point where if I’m looking at a policy and I don’t see free-speech zones, I’m shocked.”   Universities often try to justify restrictive free speech zones by arguing that they are “reasonable time, place, and manner” regulations that are permissible under First Amendment law. However, free speech zone policies […]

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  • Liberating America’s Intellectual Gulags

    April 15, 2005

    David French knows what intimidation is.French, the new President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, graduated from Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. One might say that anyone with similar credentials ought to know the definition of intimidation – but French’s experience is a bit more personal than that.“As a pro-life, Christian conservative, I received death threats in my campus mailbox, was shouted down by students and (once) was even shouted down in class by my own professor,” he says about his years in Cambridge. French now spends much of his time explaining to university general counsels […]

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  • Play Nice or Else

    March 17, 2005

    Everybody loves free speech until they’re the one offended. Then somebody had better pay. Or so it would seem at the University of North Texas, where the residue from a student protest six weeks ago finds a Hispanic organization searching for vindication, a conservative group refusing to apologize and a university chancellor failing to appease all sides. “We have a long way to go in all this,” says the aforementioned chancellor, Lee Jackson. They do indeed–with nothing less than the First Amendment on the line. But first, some background. The Young Conservatives of Texas, a student organization that takes stances […]

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  • Bigger in Texas?

    February 22, 2005

    Responding to our recent post about the University of North Texas, a reader from Texas wrote: Well, I appreciate your understanding of the scale of things here in Texas. I noticed that, in your discussion of the fun at North Texas, you made reference to “nearby Texas Tech.” We are about 300 miles from North Texas. Yeah, that’s sorta “nearby” in Texas. Great point and thanks for writing! The scale of Texas plays havoc with my New York mind. I looked it up, UNT and TTU are therefore ten Rhode Islands away from each other! Not shocking to Texans, I […]

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  • Calls for Censorship in Texas

    February 21, 2005

    The Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle carried a story on Saturday (registration required) about an uproar over a free-expression issue at the University of North Texas. Apparently, the university chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) at UNT held a “Capture an Illegal Immigrant” event to draw attention to what they see as the problem of illegal immigration in Texas (you can read about it in the UNT student paper or read a bunch of articles about it at the UNT YCT website). Basically, YCT had a few students around campus put on orange shirts with the words “Illegal Immigrant” on […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: FIRE Declares Free Speech Should Not Be Quarantined to Tiny ‘Free Speech Zones’

    February 17, 2005

    Three years ago this month, back when FIRE was in its toddlerhood, we won our very first victory in the battle against so-called Free Speech Zones. These “speech zone” policies restrict free speech and expression to tiny corners of campus and have been identified (and often defeated, thankfully) at dozens of campuses across the country. West Virginia University has the dubious distinction of being our first “speech zone” case. The university’s policy stated: “Due to the limitations of space on the downtown campus, the two designated areas for free speech and assembly will be the amphitheater area of the Mountainlair […]

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  • Texas Tech’s ‘Free-Speech Zones’ Are Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

    October 15, 2004

    A federal judge has struck down “free-speech zones” at Texas Tech University, ruling unconstitutional a requirement that students who wish to give speeches must stay within a designated area. The case was brought by Jason Roberts, a law student who had sought to speak publicly about his view that “homosexuality is a sinful, immoral, and unhealthy lifestyle.” He asked administrators for permission to give the speech outside the designated zone — a 20-foot-wide gazebo that can hold about 40 people. According to the lawsuit, officials turned down the request, saying that it was “the expression of a personal belief and thus […]

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  • Fraternities Must Stand Up to Schools’ Squelching Free Speech

    October 11, 2004

    While there is no shortage of free-speech battles on college campuses, fraternities have the dubious honor of being at the center of many of the least-sympathetic controversies. From Halloween parties where brothers show up dressed as Ku Klux Klan members to fraternity newsletters that graphically relate a brother’s sexual exploits with named co-eds, fraternities sometimes express themselves in ways that are not exactly likely to win the battle for hearts and minds. However, although fraternities later may regret the actions of some of their brothers, they must not allow their rights to be stripped away by overzealous or opportunistic administrators. […]

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  • Victory for Free Speech at Texas Tech

    October 5, 2004

    LUBBOCK, Texas, October 5, 2004—In the third victory in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) ongoing legal campaign for free speech on America’s public campuses, a federal judge struck down Texas Tech University’s speech code. The judge also ordered large areas of the university to be opened to free expression and prohibited the university from enforcing several other severe limitations on speech. The case against Texas Tech was coordinated by FIRE and filed by the Liberty Legal Institute and the Alliance Defense Fund against Texas Tech President Donald R. Haragan as part of FIRE’s ongoing Speech Codes Litigation […]

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  • Practical Advice for Fraternities Caught in the Battle for Free Speech on Campus

    September 16, 2004

    I. Introduction While there is no shortage of free speech battles on college campuses, fraternities have the dubious honor of being at the center of many of the least sympathetic controversies. From Halloween parties where brothers show up dressed as Ku Klux Klan members to fraternity newsletters that graphically relate a brother’s sexual exploits with named co-eds, fraternities sometimes express themselves in ways that are not exactly likely to win the battle for hearts and minds. However, although fraternities may later regret the actions of some of their brothers, they must not allow their rights to be stripped away by […]

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  • Texas Tech Loosens Speech Restrictions, But Some Repressive Policies Remain

    December 9, 2003

    LUBBOCK, TX—In response to the pressure of a free-speech lawsuit and student demands for constitutional rights, Texas Tech University is backing away from at least some of its severe restrictions upon free expression. In July, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) coordinated a lawsuit to force Texas Tech—a public university with 28,000 students—to eliminate a speech code that had designated only one 280-square-foot gazebo for free speech. In response, the university has greatly expanded the number of free speech zones from one small area to six substantially larger areas. “We are heartened that the suit and student activism […]

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  • PCU

    November 1, 2003

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