As I discuss in Chapter 8 of my book, college campuses are generally subject to the same sort of order management system that applies outside their gates. The campus order management system includes sometimes detailed requirements for permits, insurance, security fees, and free speech zoning. Several such provisions are in effect on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University.
Yesterday, in Sonnier v. Crane, the Fifth Circuit reversed district court's denial of a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the provision allowing administrators to charge a security fee if they felt this was warranted. That sort of unbridled discretion with respect to fees has been invalidated by the Supreme Court, making this determination an easy one. Plaintiff is a Christian preacher who sought to stand in a pedestrian mall on SLU’s campus along with a handful of friends, holding a sign, and tried to start conversations about religion with individuals who passed by.
Despite this partial victory, the Court upheld a 7-day notice requirement, a provision allowing officials to collect detailed personal information about prospective speakers, a provision limiting speakers to two hours once a week, and a free speech zone policy limiting speech to three areas on campus. Essentially, the court deferred to the university with regard to its needs to pursue its educational missions, maintain order, and ensure safety on campus. The requirements applicable outside the campus gates have now entered; but the rigor applied to them inside is much less, at least in this case, than one would find on the outside. The 7-day advance notice requirement is particularly problematic. If enforced, it would seem to prevent students from mounting spontaneous displays.