JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - A former Jones College student filed a lawsuit claiming school officials stopped him from polling students on campus and encouraging them to exercise their First Amendment rights.
The student, Mike Brown, along with the campus group Young Americans for Liberty at Jones County Junior College are suing JC over policies they claim deny students their First Amendment rights on campus. In the court filing, Brown says the school stopped him twice from exercising free speech when he tried to recruit fellow students for the campus’ chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
In February, Brown and a friend made a “free speech ball,” an inflatable beach ball where students could write messages of their choice, while YAL representatives talked to them about the importance of free speech. Brown claims an administrator told the group they were not allowed to have the gathering on campus because they did not have the college’s approval.
Brown said the next encounter happened in April when he and two others were polling students on the legalization of recreational marijuana. The suit claims JC administrators called campus police because the group did not fill out the proper paperwork.
Below is an excerpt from the Assemblies Regulations section of the Jones College Student Handbook:
One of the attorneys representing Brown and YA, Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon, is the director of litigation for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nationwide campus free speech organization.
“Students shouldn’t have to seek permission – then wait three days – before they can exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Beck-Coon. “If a ball threatens the administration so much that they call campus police, no speech is safe at Jones College.”
A statement from Jones College says its policies are not meant to stifle free speech for students, but rather to provide everyone with a safe environment free of hate speech and discrimination.
You can read the full official statement from Jones College below:
Beck-Coon said FIRE reached out to JC President Jesse Smith in May, but the organization has not received a response.
You can read the full lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court here: