By Casey Mattox
Finding the perfect Christmas gift for that college student in your life can be tough. We here at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) want to help. We know college students and the unique challenges they face.
How unique? Well, at least in California’s San Mateo Community College District, Santa Claus has been banned as too great an insurance risk (See page 29 – “Santa Claus” on list of “Excluded Vendor/Exhibitors.” Presumably, it’s the flying reindeer). So they can’t exactly depend on Santa to bring their gifts. And that’s where we can help.
The merry band of attorneys at the ADF Center for Academic Freedom spend our days representing these college students facing threats to their very right to speak on their own college campuses. So we did some thinking and came up with these Christmas gift ideas for that college student in your life.
A Sudoku book (or similar time wasters) - $7.95
- If your college student is attempting to engage in free speech on a college campus, there is a chance that he will be arrested for doing something particularly bold – like daring to distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution. That happened to our clients at Michigan’s Kellogg Community College, who were trying to start a Young Americans for Liberty chapter there. Michelle Gregoire spent an evening in the local jail because she was asking KCC students, “Do you like freedom and liberty?” while providing them a free copy of the document that guarantees her (and them) both. If you’re going to be deprived of your inalienable right to liberty for exercising your First Amendment free-speech rights on campus, you’re going to need a good way to while away the time. I like a good Sudoku puzzle, and this one should keep your student occupied until their friends and family can be notified and bail them out. (Pro tip: You may want to include a quarter so they can make the phone call).
A tape measure - $9.88
- If you have a student at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville hoping to exercise his free speech rights, this is an absolute must. SIUE restricts student speech to an area within 20 feet of “The Rock” (not Dwayne Johnson, but an actual boulder). Of course, even then they’ll need the school’s permission to use that tiny speech zone, but if they are granted permission to speak, the tape measure is a necessity.
A planner - $19.99
- If your SIUE student already has a tape measure, you might also consider a planner. SIUE requires that students notify the school of any “controversial” events, “(Examples: political figures, religious gatherings)” ninety days in advance. So if you think you might want to invite a member of the state legislature to speak on campus in mid-November, prior to exams, you need to be sure to plan for that and notify the school in mid-August before the fall semester even starts. And unfortunately these kinds of advance notice or permission for speech policies are all too common on other campuses.
Visa or American Express Gift cards – Any denomination
- Gift cards are usually weak sauce. Sure. But for many conservative, pro-life, and Christian student groups, they may also be quite helpful. While these students must pay mandatory student fees that are supposed to be used to fund the activities of all student groups, they often don’t see much or any of those funds. Take the Students for Life chapter at California State University – San Marcos for example. Students pay over a million dollars in student fees. But while $300,000 of those dollars goes to the advocacy of the LGBTQA and Gender Equity Centers, less than $40,000 is set aside for the other 100 student groups, who receive just $500 each. And when Students For Life sought funding to bring a pro-life speaker to campus, they were denied. That’s more of a Venezuelan grocery store of ideas than a marketplace of ideas.
Walkie talkies – $36.99
- If you have a student at California State University – Los Angeles, and they want to attend an insightful presentation from their favorite conservative political commentator, he may have trouble getting into the auditorium. The last time Ben Shapiro spoke at their school, faculty and student protestors blockaded the entrances so those hoping to attend couldn’t even enter the building. The YAF students that day had to find a back entrance and sneak people in to hear a talk on freedom of speech. These walkie talkies will help students quietly navigate around the opponents of free speech.
Captain America’s Shield –
- Shopping for a Georgia Gwinnett College student but trying to stay culturally relevant? We have just the thing for you! This Captain America Shield is perfect for any student, like our client Chike Uzuegbunam, whose discussion of the Bible with other students was deemed “fighting words” by the College. That designation was an attempt to justify its decision to limit him to a small speech zone, require him to ask for permission to speak, and then stop him from speaking, even with his permit, on the grounds that others were offended by the Gospel. While not as effective as the Shield of Faith, Captain America’s shield will prepare your student for any fight he accidentally starts with words like, “Love thy neighbor,” “You will find the baby lying in a manger,” or, “For God so loved the world.” Bonus: this shield can be used for his costume at the midnight premiere of Avengers: Infinity War.
GoPro Head Strap Camera Mount - $4.97
- If you’re looking for a good universal gift for a college student, this GoPro Head Strap Camera Mount is your go-to. In addition to being incredibly stylish and complementing any outfit, the Head Strap Camera Mount will allow your student to record any and all unexpected visits from university officials and security that occur while exercising his First Amendment rights. Whether he’s stopped while handing out Constitutions to other students or has to watch while his pro-life sidewalk messages are erased by school faculty, the GoPro Head Strap Camera Mount will ensure that he has that ever-so-popular footage of his professor yelling erroneously: “College campuses are not free speech areas!”
Learn more about the Center for Academic Freedom’s work defending free speech on campus.