On Thursday afternoon, Polly Olsen, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty’s client in a campus free speech lawsuit against Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), joined President Donald Trump at the White House for his signing of an executive order on campus free speech. The full text of the executive order is here and summary of event is here.
While standing side-by-side in the East Room of the White House, President Trump and Polly Olsen, a student, told the country about our fight for free speech on campus. Highlights:
President Donald Trump: “Last year, Polly was handing out homemade Valentine’s Day cards with messages such as “You are special” and “Jesus loves you.” College officials stopped her and told her she would be restricted to so-called free speech zone because some people might find her cards offensive.
I don’t. I love them. In fact, Polly, give me some and I’ll send them around to my friends.”
Polly Olsen: “Within 15 minutes of stepping onto my campus this past year, I was that told I was soliciting and disrupting the learning environment and that it would not be tolerated and I had to stop handing out my valentines. I contacted some friends of mine and they sent me to WILL to have legal counsel because this wasn’t the first time the school had done it to me….
They were trying to shut me up. I’m just one of many students that are out there that schools and universities are trying to shut down, sweep it under the rug and make them be quiet. And I told them that I am not going to be quiet this time. I am going to talk to anyone and everyone I can about our freedom of speech in this country. Because it is the core of America’s freedom. Without freedom of speech, we do not have America anymore.”
The full signing can be found here (discussion of Polly’s story starts at 9:40).
On September 5, 2018, attorneys at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Wisconsin against NWTC’s policy arguing that it unconstitutionally restricts the First Amendment rights of its students. WILL is demanding that NWTC stop enforcing anti-speech policies and allow students like Olsen to exercise their rights protected in the Constitution. The lawsuit is on-going.
Rick Esenberg, WILL President and General Counsel: “WILL is honored that our client and our fight for free speech was acknowledged by the President of the United States at the White House. Free speech and inquiry are under assault on campus and we commend President Trump for recognizing that. We look forward to seeing what steps are taken as a result of Thursday’s executive order.”