UH Hilo Loosens Free Speech Rules in Response to Lawsuit

·By civilbeat

Students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo no longer have to get permission from the school prior to free speech activities and can engage in them anywhere on campus, according to a new interim policy that was implemented today.

The new rules were developed in response to a lawsuit that was filed by two UH Hilo students in federal court late last month alleging that the school violated their First Amendment rights because an official told them they couldn’t distribute copies of the Constitution at an outdoor event on campus.

The students said they were told they weren’t allowed to engage in such activity outside of the school’s so-called “free speech zone” and that they would’ve had to request advanced permission from the university had they wanted to distribute the documents outside of that zone. 

The lawsuit, which made national headlines, parallels a suit in California that recently concluded in favor of students who sued their school over similar regulations. The students received a $50,000 settlement from the school, Modesto Junior College. 

Since the UH Hilo complaint was filed on April 24, the plaintiffs and university “have engaged in productive discussions to resolve the lawsuit,” including permnanent changes to university policy and practices, according to a press release from the university.

The new interim policy reads as follows (bolding by Civil Beat):

1) UH-Hilo will implement Section 20-13-6 of the Administrative Rules for the University of Hawai‘i and Sections 10 and 11 of the Facilities Use Practice and Procedures, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (July

Discussion