Greg Lukianoff and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have the story of a Michigan State student government leader found guilty of "spam" for sending out an email seeking support for opposition to a university plan to shorten the academic year.
After FIRE broke the story, national media outlets had a few questions for MSU: namely, how exactly is MSU's anti-spam policy consistent with the university's legal obligation to protect the First Amendment rights of its students and faculty? University spokesman Kent Cassella responded that MSU's anti-spam policy, which limits unsolicited e-mail of all kinds to about 20-30 e-mails over two days -- unless, of course, MSU grants prior approval-- is "not a free speech issue." Cassella argued that a viewpoint-neutral policy is inherently constitutional.
This is absurd. It's not just that requiring prior approval is a prior restraint. It's not just that you can bet your bottom dollar that prior approval is based on content. The crowning absurdity here is that MSU thinks that there is nothing wrong with placing a completely arbitrary limit on the number of people you can e-mail about a serious issue of public concern at a public university. So much for the right to petition government for redress of grievances. Apparently, MSU's IT department has overruled the Bill of Rights.