California college agrees to revise free-speech policy in settlement with student

CALIFORNIA – In a settlement with a student who accused Universityof California at San Diego administrators of violating his free speechrights, the university has agreed to revise its free-speech policies, andattorneys for the entire University of California system have agreed toreview anti-harassment policies at the system’s nine campuses to ensurestudents’ free speech rights aren’t being violated.

Ryan Benjamin Shapiro, a freshman, was sentenced to three hours of communityservice after he refused to remove a political poster containing an obsceneword from his dorm room window.

University officials told Shapiro that the handwritten poster, whichread, “Fuck Netanyahu and Pinochet,” violated the school’s “fighting words”policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in March accusingthe university of violating Shapiro’s free speech rights.

The settlement between Shapiro and the university, which was reachedin August, calls for university officials to revise a policy that outlinedguidelines regulating the distribution and posting of non-commercial fliers,posters and banners.

In addition, the agreement requires University of California attorneysto outline guidelines on how to interpret a section in the student codepertaining to the use of “fighting words.”

The university must also suspend Shapiro’s three-hour community servicesentence and expunge his record of the incident.