The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday comes to us from the rising generation. Joshua Gill at The Daily Signal reported that students at Dixie State University located in St. George, Utah, sued their university to preserve their right to free speech. Three students – William Jergins, Forrest Gee, and Joey Gillespie - refused to allow their right of freedom of speech to be restricted.
William Jergins, then a senior at Dixie State, and several other students wanted to start a Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) club at his school. The group applied to the university for the Fall Semester of 2014; they went through a “lengthy approval process” that prevented them from becoming active until about the middle of the semester. When the approval was finally given, Jergins and his fellow club members attempted to do a massive campaign to gain “student interest and engagement.” That is where they ran into trouble.
The university would not allow their fliers to be distributed around campus because “they mocked former President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, and Che Guevara.” The club proposed “a free speech wall display on campus” but was told it had to go “in a designated free speech zone.”
Jergins did not know what to do until he “met a representative from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education at a YAL conference in New Orleans, LA.” Jergins explained his situation and was given the representative’s contact information. Following up the next week, Jergins and his contact decided to file a lawsuit. Jergins, Gee, and Gillespie filed the lawsuit and were represented by attorneys Robert Corn-Revere, Ronald London, and Lisa Zycherman of David Wright Tremaine LLP. The case, Jergins v. Williams, was filed on March 4, 2015,
and settled on September 17; it “resulted in a major revision of Dixie State’s once restrictive speech codes.”
In an article Jergins explained why “limiting free speech limits the potential for learning.” “Fundamentally, learning is simply hearing ideas different than the ones you currently hold and evaluating them to determine the truth. By limiting the freedom of speech on campus, Dixie State’s administration is limiting the number of ideas expressed on campus. That limits the number of ideas we hear, the number of concepts we consider, the truths we find, and our entire learning experience.”