EXCLUSIVE: Conservative group claims victory as college changes 'unconstitutional' policy
- A Mississippi community college has backtracked on a social media policy which blocked their College Republicans chapter from starting a Facebook page.
- The school’s president says that they are “suspending” the policy and it will go through a period of “review and revision.”
A Mississippi College Republicans chapter challenged its school's "unconstitutional" social media policy and, in less than 24 hours, it won.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) has “temporarily suspended” its social media policy, which blocked the school’s recently-chartered College Republicans chapter from creating a public Facebook page.
In an email obtained by Campus Reform, MGCCC President Mary Graham said that the policy has been suspended and will go through a period of “review and revision.”
“The college has immediately begun a review and revision of its social media policy and implementation practices,” Graham said in the email. “Until such time as the policy can be revised in such a manner that no interpretation contrary to intent can be made, the college is suspending its social media policy.”
The college president also said that it was not the “intent” to “infringe upon the free speech rights of any student, student group or organization, or college employees.”
“While it is unfortunate that some college policy and practice has been interpreted as such an infringement, the college seeks only to improve upon its policies and practices,” she said.
MGCCC’s announcement comes less than a day after Campus Reform first reported about its social media policy, which blocked its Jefferson Davis campus CR chapter from opening a public Facebook account.
MGCCC College Republicans President Ray Lee told Campus Reform that he is pleased that the college is taking another look at the policy.
“I am happy to see that the college is taking a look at the policy, and I'm sure they will make the necessary changes to ensure all students, clubs, and faculty are able to fully express their constitutional rights on public college campuses,” Lee said.
On Thursday, Lee spoke with Campus Reform: vowing to win this fight: “In my opinion, the college's policy, which requires a private page, is unconstitutional as it is. It challenges our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, and we will not give in. This is bureaucracy at its finest.”
Adam Steinbaugh, director of the free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s individual rights defense program, told Campus Reform that the college should be applauded for taking quick action on the policy which raised “serious First Amendment concerns.”
"The college should be credited with coming to its senses quickly and meaningfully, as it has pledged to stop enforcing the policy immediately,” Steinbaugh said. “MGCCC should use this as an opportunity to survey its policies to ensure that they're protective of student and faculty speech rights -- and other institutions should look at their own policies, as well."
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