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By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

Jolie Stuart-Davis and other members of Penn State’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom spent Wednesday, Constitution Day, protesting university rules that name 12 locations as “areas suitable for expressive activity” — or free-speech zones, as they’re sometimes derisively called.

University officials might have unwittingly helped YAF’s mission to show how the school’s policies can restrict the free flow of speech on campus. Like everything controversial these days, it’s on video, too.


See, the school’s YAF chapter had the audacity to bring a table to their event, which, while helpful to hold the group’s literature, also had not been OK’d by the university. That’s a no-no, apparently, even when the First Amendment is at stake.

In the video, a woman who identifies herself as Judy Albin, senior associate director of union and student activities, tells the students they have to take down the table because it wasn’t a pre-approved structure as required under school policy.

Talk about a bureaucratic blow for free speech.

“I honestly thought it was a joke,” said Stuart-Davis, the chairwoman of the school’s YAF chapter and a Penn State graduate student.

As it turns out, Albin wasn’t joking about the rogue table. She didn’t relent either, not even after Stuart-Davis raised the possibility she was violating the group’s rights.

“Your rights aren’t being violated at all,” Albin said in the video. “You can hand out all the information you want to hand out. You just cannot have a table.”

The 4-minute video already is making the rounds online, appearing on conservative news site and Onward State, a student-produced news site at Penn State.

Albin eventually told the students she could be forced to call the campus police, though she appeared reluctant to go that far — “Why do that?” she said.

Stuart-Davis accepted an offer to review the policy with Albin, but said Albin and a second official who confronted them disappeared once they got into the student union. While Stuart-Davis was inside looking for them, other YAF members decided to just take down the table, she said.

Albin and a university spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Stuart-Davis said she’s held similar events before with no trouble. She said she believes the group struck a nerve over its message about school policies that limit where and how students can express themselves.

“If you have to reserve free speech,” Stuart-Davis said, “it’s not really free.”

Andrew Staub is a reporter for PA Independent and can be reached at [email protected].  Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.