Phi Beta Cons

UM: Impermissible Political Speech and Pizza

The University of Montana at Missoula has a rule that limits candidates for student-government offices to spending a maximum of $100 when campaigning among the school’s 10,000 students.

Aaron Flint, a student, running for a student senate seat, spent an impermissible $114.69 for seven  pepperoni pizzas in an effort to respond to unregulated speech, i.e., the campus-wide appearance of posters critical of him. For this, the student senate removed Flint from office after he won the election. George Will comments that the university

is indeed teaching students a lesson about politics – the pernicious lesson that politics should be conducted under tight restrictions on advocacy. The university is preventing students from learning such essential civic skills as how to raise and allocate political money for advertising and organizing. Thus do the grossly anti-constitutional premises of McCain-Feingold seep through society, poisoning the practice of democracy at all levels.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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