This school makes students jump through hoops to exercise their free speech rights.

The FIRE blog reports.

Speech Code of the Month: Northwestern State University

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for August 2016: Northwestern State University in Louisiana.

Universities are allowed to adopt reasonable, content-neutral, and narrowly tailored “time, place, and manner” regulations governing expressive activities on campus, but Northwestern State’s new Policy on Public Speech, Assembly and Demonstrations is anything but reasonable. Because of this policy, FIRE recently downgraded Northwestern State to our poorest, red light speech code rating.

First, the policy requires students to “[a]pply at least 24–48 hours or more” before holding a demonstration or other public assembly. Next, the policy limits expressive activities to “one, 2-hour time period every 7 days, commencing on Monday.” Finally, expressive activities are limited to just three spots on campus: Student Union Plaza, Prather Coliseum East Parking Lot, and the “Green Space between CAPA and Varnado Hall.”

There are numerous problems with this policy, so let’s go through them one at a time.

First, while it is fine for a university to request advanced notice of demonstrations where possible, a public university like Northwestern State may not completely prevent its students from engaging in spontaneous expressive activities on campus. The Supreme Court has said that “[i]t is offensive—not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society—that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so.” Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of NY, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, 536 U.S. 150, 165–66 (2002).