Ohio University just got slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly ordering students not to wear T-shirts with a funny (and racy) message written on the back.
The lawsuit came from Issac Smith who is the leader of a campus group called Students Defending Students, a legal defense group for students facing disciplinary action from the school. Members wore a T-shirt that read “We get you off for free” as part of a recruitment drive last August.
According to the lawsuit, the group’s T-shirt had been a slogan for the organization dating back to the group’s founding in 1976. The group tweeted a photo of the shirt with the slogan on the back, a photo that was seen by Ohio University Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones. She was at the group’s event and immediately ordered all of the students to remove the shirt by remarking “I don’t want to see you wearing that T-shirt again.” Martha Compton, the school’s director of the office of community standards, later remarked that the shirts objectified women, were sexually inappropriate and encouraged prostitution, the latter of which doesn’t make sense because the word “free” is in the slogan.
Smith claims school administrators threatened disciplinary actions but the school denied taking or threatening such measures. The lawsuit claims that the school’s policies on curtailing student speech is too broad and violates the students’ basic First Amendment rights. We’re with the students. People who claim they are offended at something are usually going out of their way to be offended so they can raise such objections and even if their feelings are genuine, that’s the price for living in a society that puts speech at the top of their guaranteed freedoms list.