Yet another public university is trying to silence students who work in campus housing from speaking out about their university’s handling of COVID-19 cases, even though both students and public employees have substantial First Amendment protection to speak about issues of public concern.
The Bottom Line, the student newspaper at Frostburg State University, spoke to one resident assistant (“R.A.”) who said the university “doesn’t want negative press and they’re getting a lot of it. So, they threaten our jobs and we’ll quiet down I guess is their thought process.”
Here’s the WDWK EXTRA episode detailing how this practice is unconstitutional.
Bottom Line reports that the Frostburg State director of residence life, Kimberly Hinds-Brush, is standing by the policy saying, “in the real world, if you bad mouth your employer you could lose your job.”
Except, that’s not what courts have said for the past 50-or-so years about the First Amendment. Actually, taking a government paycheck doesn’t deprive you of the right to, quote, “bad mouth” the government. That’s called “whistleblowing.” And it’s constitutionally protected speech.
Here’s the full story: