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Constitution Day Brings Controversy at Modesto Junior College

MODESTO –

There are few things held more sacred in the United States than the Constitution and the First Amendment. But on Constitution Day, 26-year-old Army Veteran and Modesto Junior College student Robert Van Tuinen ran into some trouble trying to hand out copies of the Constitution to his classmates. In a video posted to YouTube, a campus officer told Van Tuinen to stop and said he need a “Time and Place” slip to do so on campus.

“The idea that I had to ask for permission to hand out the constitution or anything. I have free speech that’s guaranteed by the constitution, so the idea of asking for permission is a little ridiculous,” Van Tuinen told FOX40.

MJC Marketing and Public Relations Officer Linda Hoile says campus security may have overstepped their authority.

“The student, from what I can see on the video, was not being disruptive in any way shape or form and should have been allowed to hand out the constitutions,” Hoile told FOX40.

Hoile says the campus requires “Time and Place” slips to be filed to help keep the peace, especially when opposing non-campus groups come on campus.

“It shouldn’t be a terrible thing that I want to pass out pamphlets or constitutions or anything as a student. Now when it comes to an outside organization coming onto campus, I can see the hesitation there,” Van Tuinen said.

FOX40 showed the video of Van Tuinen’s Constitution Day run-in to other students.

“My reaction is he’s right and he’s wrong. The constitution says you have the right to speech, but if you open your book up at MJC, it says you have to ask permission,” said MJC student Daniel Escalante.

Perhaps on MJC’s College Avenue campus, the free speech movement took precedent, if even for a few minutes, over the ramblings of Facebook and Twitter.

“Not just here, but all over the country, because there are unconstitutional speech policies, they are forcing students into free speech zones, limiting what they can say. This is a nationwide problem,” said Van Tuinen.

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