Monday, July 27, 2015

Cal Poly Pomona settles free-speech lawsuit over animal rights protest

Cal Poly Pomona has settled a lawsuit brought on behalf of a student handing out animal-rights literature on campus.

“I’m glad that Cal Poly was able to reach agreement fairly quickly,” said Nicolas Tomas. “I think had they reached out to their counsel when I reached out to their administrators before, we could have settled this before, but I feel like they kind of ran wild with their policies with no constitutional basis.”

In the settlement, reached Thursday, Cal Poly agreed to revise its policies and pay Tomas $35,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.

Earlier this year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, a nonprofit that fights speech restrictions at campuses around the country, sued on Tomas’ behalf in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The 24-year-old nutrition major had been handing out Vegan Outreach pamphlets advocating the vegan lifestyle and attacking the treatment of farm animals since fall 2013. According to Tomas, he mostly worked the sidewalks between the university’s parking garage and the main campus, reasoning that was where he would see most of those coming or going from campus.

But administrators and, eventually, campus police objected, telling him he had to restrict his activities to a 154 square-foot “free speech zone” — a little triangle of grass between the university library and student center — and wear a badge, signed by a university administrator, declaring that he had permission to be there.

FIRE attacked the policy as a “deprivation of fundamental rights” and sued the university on March 31. Cal Poly suspended its free-speech zone policy in early May.



Anonymous said...

"Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom... of the press" - small "p" press, that means everyone. Got that Chucky Schumer?

Bird of Paradise said...

Anyone who thinks animals have the same rights as people are stark raving stupid