Betsy DeVos slams free speech at A-State, officials defend policy

Sep 19, 2018

The US Department of Education Secretary made remarks this week that were negative of Arkansas State University.  

Betsy DeVos targeted the university over free-speech on the Jonesboro campus.  A-State student Ashlyn Hoggard sued the university after she claimed she was stopped from setting up a table about conservative group, Turning Point USA in front of the Carl R. Reng Student Union.  Hoggard says she was told she couldn’t set up the information because she did not notify university administrators at least three days previously, as noted in A-State’s policy.

ASU General Counsel Brad Phelps tells the Arkansas Democrat Gazette “the university is committed to the first amendment with policies and procedures that are designed to further that right, not restrict it.” 

The university is one of two in the state that has designated free-speech zones, something criticized by DeVos as a “typically obscure, small, cordoned-off corner of campus where free expression is permitted.”  She accused the university of “manipulating the marketplace of ideas.” 

The defendants have denied such actions, and point to the free speech policies that were established in 1998.  Phelps says he can’t comment further on the case. 

KASU is licensed through Arkansas State University.