Several weeks after a Fairmont State University police officer told Dustin Winski to stop wearing a sign reading “Do U think the NSA should spy on your phone,” the student still doesn’t know whether he’ll get in trouble if he tries to collect petition signatures again.
Acting on behalf of Winski, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education told the public university in West Virginia earlier this month that it “must immediately revise its policies and practices.”
FSU’s solicitation policy gives police officers “broad discretion” to decide when students are violating campus rules and “unconstitutionally burdens” student speech, according to FIRE.
You ‘freaked out’ students, so knock it off
Bracing for a day of canvassing and promoting liberty, Winski headed out Aug. 30 to collect signatures and gauge interest in starting a Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter, accompanied by Abe Alassaf, a field representative for the conservative Leadership Institute.
Inside Falcon Hall, FSU was hosting its annual student organization fair. Outside, Winsky didn’t last an hour before campus police told him and Alassaf to stop.
“While campus security seemed sympathetic to his efforts, they explained that the student fair activities are the discretion of the police, and Winsky was too ‘outgoing’ in his efforts to collect signatures,” YAL Director of Communications Matthew Boyer said in a statement.
...Asked if requesting signups is considered soliciting, Philyaw recommended that Winski reserve a table and set it up outside, right where they had been standing.
“I see where you are coming from, it is out-of-the-box marketing but it comes across to campus police as soliciting because you are not doing it the way most people would do it with a table,” said Philyaw, as seen in a video also taken by Alassaf...."