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WordsWatch: Exercising Your Rights


Exercising Your Rights

“No person shall interfere with individuals exercising their free speech rights within areas open to the general public in shopping centers, apartment complexes, and other private or public property open to the general public.”  Irvine’s Freedom Of Speech Ordinance

This month’s quote is excerpted from the Irvine Freedom of Speech Ordinance (which has been in existence for well over a decade).  As is the case with all laws safeguarding freedom of speech, the rubber meets the road when someone exercises the rights that the law protects.

On Election Day 2016, I chose to exercise those rights on a public pathway in the “Middle Earth” section of the UCI campus.  I was offering a political flyer (in support of a candidate for Mayor of Irvine) to individuals who indicated that they intended to vote that day.  Two campus employees approached and stated that what I was doing was forbidden by a campus policy because “Middle Earth” was a residential portion of the campus and my activity, allegedly, was akin to trespassing or invasion of privacy.

Rather than provoking an incident, I sought out a campus official with sufficient authority to rectify this situation.  I met with Mr. Daniel “Dan” Dooros, Associate Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs.  After examining my flyer and confirming that I was handing out flyers a sufficient distance from the polling station located in Middle Earth, Mr. Dooros readily acknowledged that my activity was lawful and I was free to resume distributing flyers.

It is wonderful to have rights on paper; the ability to actually exercise those rights is even more important.

Harris E. Kershnar
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