Looking into Jan. 18: Multiple factors at play in university response

First Amendment concerns impact the way the university responded to the appearance of Dalton Clodfelter and his group.


Nicholas Windfelder

FAU Students crowding around “#YeisRight” table in opposition to their antisemitic ideas. Individuals hold signs with holocaust statistics and historic timelines.

Following last Wednesday’s events, students have raised a lot of questions. The main question people are asking is: why didn’t FAU remove Dalton Clodfelter and his companions from campus?

Adam Goldstein spent 13 years as a lawyer for the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) and now is the vice president of research for the Foundation of Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).

Goldstein stated that based on the information he is aware of, that “being an antisemite, in a public area, is not illegal.” 

He said there are two questions to ask about the group where their removal is concerned. One is: can they be on campus? The second: can they have a table?

Can this group be on campus?

To better answer, the UP reached out to the department in charge of managing spaces, including the Breezeway, for the use of students and non-students: the Student Union. Chris Hall Lynch, the union’s interim director, directed questions from the UP to public affairs.

Marian Williams, office manager of Student Government, stated that due to the status of the university, they can’t take action.

“We are a quasi-public space so we cannot stop people, we are a free speech area,” said Williams.

Goldstein agrees that if the public is normally allowed on campus, then they’re part of the public.

Answer one: The public is allowed in certain areas of the university, such as the Breezeway and library. 

Is the Union obligated to give all the groups a table?

According to the Student Union, non-FAU students must file a form and pay a fee to use a table on the Breezeway. Staff declined to provide information on the groups that reserved a table on Jan. 18.

The UP reached out to the FAU Police Department to inquire about security policies on campus, but did not receive a reply by publication time.

“If the only people who are being restrained from the campus are the ones who want to say things that the campus officials find upsetting, and that’s viewpoint discrimination. And that’s what the First Amendment would prohibit,” Goldstein explained.

Answer two: The union is not obligated to provide a table, but they are available for anyone that completes the paperwork.

The UP is awaiting comment from public affairs and the American Civil Liberties Union, a nonprofit dedicated to the appropriate application of the United States  constitution.

Jessica Abramsky is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Jessica at [email protected].

Ma. Emilia Santander is the Managing Editor at the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, you can reach her on Instagram @emilias_ed or email her at [email protected].