OK to be 'annoyed' in Arkansas: University backtracks on free speech restrictions

Friday, July 19, 2013
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

The University of Central Arkansas did a quick about face on its speech code after an academic watchdog group pointed out it was unconstitutional.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, contacted the University of Central Arkansas about its policy which stated students could be punished for "annoying" speech.

“Whenever policy prohibits annoying another person and actually uses the word ‘annoying,’ that is unbelievably subjective,” explains Azhar Majeed, director of Legal and Public Advocacy at FIRE. 

Such policies put “protected speech at risk of punishment,” he adds.

Majeed

He says the UCA policy even tried to prevent certain speech by students using social media sites, such as Facebook.

“That is absolutely unconstitutional,” he tells OneNewsNow.

Majeed says within a week of receiving FIRE's letter a university spokesperson agreed changes were warranted.

An attorney for UCS informed FIRE in an email the words "annoying" and "disparaging" are being removed from the 2013-2014 student handbook regarding offensive speech.

The university is located in Conway, Arkansas.

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