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Ron Paul sign removal from AU dorm window draws fire from free speech watchdogs

Ron Paul? Wrong hall.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) today issued a statement calling on Auburn University to end what it says is selective enforcement of a ban on dorm room window displays. The organization, whose primary focus is fighting what is views as free speech violations on college campuses, was contacted by Auburn senior Eric Philips after Philips was asked to remove a “Ron Paul 2012” sign from the inside of his Tiger Hall window.

Philips, a member and former president of the Auburn chapter of the Paul-affiliated student organization Young Americans for Liberty, sent FIRE photos of the sign along with photos of other apparent—and apparently unaddressed— violations of the newly adopted Auburn Housing and Residence Life policy 1.4.5, which states: “Hanging or displaying items such as flags, banners, decals, or signs out of or obstructing residence hall windows is prohibited.”

He also documented his freedom-fighting crawl through AU bureaucracy with a hidden camera:

After being contacted by Philips, FIRE sent a letter to Auburn University president Jay Gogue on Dec. 9 asking that Auburn “evenly enforce its policies on student expression.”

“Such selective enforcement and viewpoint-based discrimination is untenable at Auburn, a public university bound by the First Amendment.”

A Dec. 13 response from Auburn Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Amy Hecht stated AU’s commitment “to the consistent and nondiscriminatory enforcement” of the residence hall policy.

That apparently wasn’t good enough for FIRE.

“An unreasonable and pointless ban on all window displays is bad enough,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff is quoted as saying in today’s release. “Yet it’s obvious from the photos that Auburn has actually singled out Eric Philips’ Ron Paul poster for removal. If Auburn is selectively banning only speech it deems controversial—or worse, political speech it simply doesn’t like—freedom of expression is in grave danger at Auburn.”

Related: Gator spotted hanging from AU dorm room window.

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