Oh, the irony: arresting several students for distributing pocket Constitutions, allegedly prohibiting the educational process on campus at Kellogg Community College (KCC) in Battle Creek, MI. Apparently, asking college aged adults if they like freedom and liberty is so offensive and obstructive to the educational process that campus supporters of Young Americans for Liberty must now be represented in federal court by the attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). You can check out the formal complaint here.
Students Michelle Gregoire and Brandon Withers are supporters of YAL and were asked to leave campus. When they refused, they were arrested.
Since when did distributing a public, historic, and formally well-respected document in a public location become grounds for arrest?
Evidently, when KCC adapted their 2016-17 Student Handbook. KCC reserves the right to censor its students, and censor them they did. On September 20, 2016 these students were on an open walkway on campus, asking questions such as, “Do you like freedom and liberty?” to students passing by. As YAL is not a registered student organization at the college, they were arrested for trespass and in violation of the solicitation policy listed in the student handbook. The solicitation policy states:
“Soliciting activities on campus are permitted only when the activities support the mission of Kellogg Community College (KCC) or the mission of a recognized college entity or activity. Non-College organizations may conduct solicitation activities on campus only when lawfully sponsored by a recognized College entity. All organizations desiring to conduct soliciting activities on campus must adhere to College policies and procedures. Solicitation shall not impede or interfere with College business, the education process, or public access to and use of the College grounds. The College reserves the right to stop any solicitation when it interferes with or disrupts the normal activities of the College; interferes with the educational process; or violates any of the conditions covering solicitation under this policy. All solicitation activities must have prior approval from Student Life.”
As if other students were unable to continue walking or choose not to engage with the YAL supporters. Again, this is a college campus. With “adults.”
Yet one of the college administrators seems to think that passing out Constitutions and engaging in conversation with other students, especially those from surrounding rural areas, is an obstruction to the education KCC provides.
“[He is concerned that] students from rural farm areas…might not feel like they have the choice to ignore the question.”
Luckily, the ADF has come alongside these students to help dissolve an unconstitutional policy.
“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”
This campus is supposed to be a place which encourages free thought, a place where ideas are challenged, a place where people can change and be changed so they can go out into the world and make an impact. By censoring these individuals, and all individuals attempting to revolutionize their peers’ way of thinking, the college promotes a culture of apathy, safety, and indifference- none of which is going to align with the mission statement that seems to be so precious:
So once again, oh the irony. The irony of arresting students for handing out a document protecting them from arrest. If it weren’t so sad, I might laugh.