In news from my neck of the woods, regarding my alma mater:

"The ACLU of Rhode Island today announced a favorable settlement in its lawsuit against Rhode Island College for censoring a sign display supporting reproductive freedom that was sponsored by a student women’s rights group on campus. The signs were taken down after administrators received objections about them from a priest. The ACLU lawsuit, filed by volunteer attorney Jennifer Azevedo, had argued that the college violated the First Amendment rights of the student group, the Women’s Studies Organization (WSO) of RIC, and its three student officers. The highlight of the settlement is an award by RIC of $5,000 to the student group."

The signs read, "Keep your rosaries off our ovaries." The above mentioned priest told the college president, John Nazarian, who immediately had campus police remove the signs. Back when the lawsuit was filed, Nazarian shrugged off anti-free speech charges by claiming that despite RIC being a public college, "It it is not a government entity and that college President John Nazarian is not a government employee."

The ACLU’s response: "Rhode Island College’s position that its campus is a Constitution-free zone is shocking and preposterous, and will no doubt come as a surprise to the thousands of students and faculty members who thought they were attending or working at a public institution." 

Now that the courts have sided with the students and the ACLU, the college is claiming that this was never an issue of free speech. But if it was never a free speech matter, why claim the students had no free speech rights and that you had the authority to take down any ol’ sign?

As proud as I am of my school, and as many issues as I have with our tiniest-yet-most-corrupt state, I still love living in a "blue" state, where the rosaries are kept away from the ovaries and your hands are kept off my signs and my rights.

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