Free speech group suing UCF over student policies

A non-profit membership association that fights restrictions on free speech and other civil rights has filed a lawsuit against the University of Central Florida over three of its student conduct policies.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Speech First names UCF president Alexander Cartwright and more than two dozen other faculty members as defendants.

At issue is three of the school’s policies, UCF’s discriminatory harassment policy, its computer policy, and its Just Knights Response Team.

Speech First filed the lawsuit on behalf of three unnamed students identified as “Student A,” “Student B,” and “Student C.”

WDBO spoke with Nicole Neily, president and founder of Speech First, about the students and why they filed the lawsuit.

“They’d like to discuss issues, current news of the day, political issues, religious issues, but they believe that they would be reported through the policies that the school has, like the discriminatory harassment policy, and the Just Knights Response Team because their viewpoints could be considered humiliating. I mean, that’s a hugely broad term,” said Neily.

In the lawsuit, Speech First is asking a judge for a permanent injunction barring UCF from enforcing the discriminatory harassment and computer policies and to disband the Just Knights Response Team.

On Wednesday afternoon, UCF released a statement in response to the suit.

“We are still reviewing the complaint. However, the University of Central Florida has a long history of supporting free speech and open expression, and believes so strongly in that right it is guaranteed in the first paragraph of our Student Rules of Conduct,” says Communications Director Mark Shlueb.

The statement quotes the first paragraph of UCF’s Student Rules of Conduct:

“The right of all students to seek knowledge, debate ideas, form opinions, and freely express their ideas is fully recognized by the University of Central Florida. The Rules of Conduct…will not be used to impose discipline for the lawful expression of ideas.”

Shlueb adds students and employees are expected to follow state and federal laws that guarantee freedom from unlawful discrimination.

You can read Speech First’s lawsuit in its entirety by clicking HERE.


Darrell Moody

Darrell Moody

Darrell Moody is a 6 generation native Floridian, born and raised in central Florida.  He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2003.  In 2007, Darrell began his radio career with the Florida News Network and WFLF in Orlando.

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