University of South Alabama Tried to Make a Student Remove a Trump Sign from His Dorm Window

His two-word reply: "1st amendment."

|

Alabama
Public Domain

A public university has finally admitted that it cannot compel a student to remove a Trump-Pence 2016 sign from the window of his dormitory.

Administrators at the University of South Alabama tried to argue that the student, David Meredith, had violated school policy by posting the sign.

"It is against university policy for political signs to be posted in windows, including residence halls," wrote Community Directory Dylan S. Lloyd in an email to Meredith. Lloyd gave him 24 hours to remove the sign—which was put up on March 30, months after the election—and noted that a residential advisor would check to make sure he had complied.

In response, Meredith sent an email containing just two words: "1st amendment." Indeed, that was more than Meredith even needed to say, since Lloyd should have been well aware that he could not actually infringe on a student's right to post a sign acknowledging that Donald Trump is the president.

Lloyd countered that the presence of the sign suggested that the university had endorsed Trump's presidential campaign, and would re-endorse his re-election. But, as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education explained in its letter to the university, legal precedent in this matter is clear: "students are strongly presumed not to speak on behalf of the universities they attend."

Thanks to FIRE's careful explanation of the law, Alabama was persuaded to drop the charges against Meredith.

Still, it's remarkable that the administrators whose job, apparently, is to monitor the posting of signs in windows didn't know that students can post signs in windows. A First Amendment advocacy group's work is never finished.

NEXT: New Bill Will Make Canada the Second Country to Legalize Marijuana

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I suppose a private college could ban signs in the windows of their dorms. Then again, I had occasion to go by Bryn Mawr College last year and about 80% of the dorm windows had Hillary or Bernie signs. Obviously, no Trump or Johnson.

    1. Actually, I don’t think a private college could ban political signs from dorm windows. After all, the dorm occupants are renters and the dorm is their domicile.

      I am not a lawyer, so I am most likely wrong.

      1. I think they could if there was some general ban on putting up signs visible from outside in the rental agreement. But to make people take down certain signs when there was no such provision wouldn’t be reasonable in my non-lawyerly opinion.

      2. Our city bans signs in lawns.

        I think there is an exemption for real estate sale signs.

        In practice they don’t try to enforce against school booster signs or political signs. Only retail advertisements.

      3. My condominium bans political signs in windows. Property values or something is the excuse. Not sure if it would stand if there were a challenge, but HOA wouldn’t give a fuck regardless. Power mad meddlers in other people’s private lives and all that.

  2. “students are strongly presumed not to speak on behalf of the universities they attend.”

    Unless they’re rioting to shut down speakers that don’t have the same political opinions as the university administration and professors, then they’re A-OK and no repercussions will be forthcoming.

    1. They are presumed to be speaking for the University in those cases?

      1. “students are strongly presumed not to speak on behalf of the universities they attend.”

        Those that graduate and become officers of professional or scientific associations need to be strongly reminded of this before they start using the Imperial or Editorial We issue marching orders to fellow memebers across the whole political spectrum to support their favorite causes.

        Like First Amendment rights, the political neutrality of such associations must first exist in praxis in order to be respected

      2. No, they are speaking for the University.

          1. I suspect he’s meaning that they’re acting in the way the university wishes it could but cannot officially.

  3. In the student’s place, I would have used twice that many words: “First Amendment. Bring it.”

    1. Or just replace the sign with “Second Amendment.”

  4. I suspect it isn’t hard to find an obama sign in the dorms.

    1. They wanted to Trump sign down because the color clashed with thousands of Bernie signs.

  5. …Alabama was persuaded to drop the charges against Meredith.

    Charges?

  6. Still, it’s remarkable that the administrators whose job, apparently, is to monitor the posting of signs in windows didn’t know that students can post signs in windows.

    It’s not really remarkable. This student would likely have been left alone by the admin if the sign indicated support for a Team Blue candidate/office-holder.

    1. God I would cheer if two students coordinated putting up Red and Blue signs on the same campus and documented their separate treatment. Of course this would require non-deranged, non-politically dogmatic students.

  7. I honestly cannot tell if this is good new or bad.

  8. I just began eight weeks past and i have become four check for an entire of $4,15000…this is the best call I made in quite a while! “Much obliged to you for giving American express this unprecedented opportunity to make more cash from home. This further cash has adjusted my life in such a lot of courses in which, bestow you!”…….GOOD LUCK Click this snap
    this connection -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= http://www.net.pro70.com

  9. I just began eight weeks past and i have become four check for an entire of $4,15000…this is the best call I made in quite a while! “Much obliged to you for giving American express this unprecedented opportunity to make more cash from home. This further cash has adjusted my life in such a lot of courses in which, bestow you!”…….GOOD LUCK Click this snap
    this connection -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= http://www.net.pro70.com

  10. Administrators at the University of South Alabama tried to argue that the student, David Meredith, had violated school policy

    You won’t believe what happened next!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.