Bowing to ACLU Request, CT University Agrees Not to Ban Protest Signs at Sports Arena

October 18, 2001 12:00 am

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HARTFORD, CT — In response to legal demands made by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a student member of the University of Connecticut “”Student Labor Coalition,”” the University has rightfully agreed to allow students with signs critical of Nike Corporation to attend sporting events in the school’s Gampel Arena.

“We are grateful that the state has chosen to avoid litigation on such a basic issue of free speech,”” said Philip Tegeler, CCLU Legal Director: “”Openness to protest and dissent is one of the important roles of a public university.”

During last year’s basketball season, UConn officials barred students from entering the Gampel Pavilion during the women’s NCAA tournaments with signs protesting Nike’s labor policies. Nike is one of the sponsors of the UConn basketball program.

The protest signs were similar in size to other signs carried by fans, but students were prevented from entering because of the signs’ content. In defense of the free speech, the CCLU sent a legal demand letter on behalf of the students, asking that they be permitted to attend games with protest signs.

The university has now agreed that it “”will not ban reasonably sized signs at Gampel events, based on content or message.””

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