Campus cops confuse public and private while evicting TPUSA
A conservative activist was kicked off campus at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus after being told she was on private property, despite the school being a public institution.
School policy requires 15 days advance notice for outside groups to table, as well as a $100/day fee; the Constitution, however, guarantees citizens the right to free expression on public property.
A conservative activist was kicked off Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus after being told she was on private property, despite the school being a public institution.
Driena Sixto, a field representative for Turning Point USA, was recruiting for the conservative organization at Miami Dade College when an administrator called campus police to have her removed, according to a video obtained by Campus Reform.
“We have free speech zones,” Lauren Adamo, director of Student Life, tells Sixto before hopping on the phone with campus police.
Sixto said Adamo was at another table nearby helping students register to vote, when she randomly approached to ask Sixto if she had permission to be there.
“Hi, there’s a woman in the breezeway and she’s not authorized to be here,” Sixto can be heard saying on the phone with campus police.
Sixto continues to recruit students while Adamo waits for police to arrive, and can be heard pitching her organization’s stance on free speech.
“We believe in free speech,” said Sixto. “We’re against ridiculous free speech zones on public universities, which they are actually trying to enforce here.”
Later in the video, Miami Dade College police officers arrive, and Sixto explained to them that she should be free to recruit without approval given she was in a public area.
“In a public university you can table; you can be in any area that’s considered public,” she stated. “So this is a public sidewalk, just like those other organizations that are considered registered.”
The camera pans to show three other groups with tables on the same pathway.
Sixto continues, “It doesn’t matter if it’s an administration rule, the school can actually get in trouble for having free speech zones or for removing people from a public area just because they’re not a registered student organization.”
“Everyone has rules,” one officer responds. “Right now you’re gonna have to leave.”
“We’re not telling you that you can’t do this, but there are procedures,” the other officer chimes in.
According to the MDC Manual of Procedure, outside organizations have to receive 15 days advance approval and pay a daily table fee of $100. Administrators also have the right to limit outside organizations to one visit per month or to deny the visit request due to “space availability.”
At one point, an officer mistakenly tells Sixto that she is on private property, even though Miami-Dade is a public university. When Sixto corrects him, he says, “I’m not here to argue whether it’s public or private.”
The officers again ask Sixto to leave and wait around until she relents and turns off her camera.
Sixto told Campus Reform that she had previously been to the exact same spot to recruit and didn’t have any issues. She speculated that Adamo, who was recruiting nearby, did not like the Turning Point USA signs and thus wanted to get Sixto kicked off campus.
“It's extremely disappointing to learn that Miami Dade College Kendall Campus, an institution that claims to be inclusive of all students and a promoter of different ideas, would unabashedly discriminate against students with a conservative message,” Sixto told Campus Reform. “They should know also, that as a public university, everyone in the community has a right to the public facilities offered on campus, including a public sidewalk, even if it's to express ideas not in line with those of a university administrator.”
Campus Reform reached out to both Adamo and Miami Dade College for comment, but neither had responded by press time.
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