UCF is backing away from a threatening message sent to students that appears be a blatant First Amendment violation — banning students from holding “signs of any kind” or standing in public areas during UCF’s annual Sorority Bid Day tradition.
The message, which threatens police action, was sent out to members of IFC fraternities at the request of “some of the heads at OFSL,” referring to professional staff members in UCF’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
“Fraternity men who want to be present need to only be in front of OFSL on the sidewalk and the grass of OFSL (not AXiD like last year),” the message stated. “There shall be no signs of any kind, tunnels, or any other explicit actions as defined by IFC exec and OFSL staff. The UCF Police Department will also be there to take action as necessary.”
But when KnightNews.com’s Jake Rakoci asked several UCF administrators directly why UCF officials appeared to be violating students’ First Amendment rights, UCF denied it had any involvement.
“To my knowledge no message exists from UCF regarding student behavior in Greek Park. However, I am aware that a registered student organization, the Interfraternity Council, sent a message to members of IFC,” said Kerry Welch, a UCF administrator.
It appears that UCF will not be enforcing the ban.
“Based on your email to us, it’s our understanding that UCF in fact is not imposing the restrictions outlined in the IFC message,” Rakoci said in an email to Welch. “Rather, it was merely IFC — an entity without the power to restrict a student’s speech or movement on a public sidewalk or punish students for engaging in protected speech…If our understanding is incorrect, please let me know by 8 p.m.”
Neither Welch, nor anyone else from UCF, responded to the email.
Welch’s initial email directed Rakoci to contact IFC, however, when he tried to reach out to IFC President Joey Moore on Facebook, Moore read the message but did not respond.
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We are still working to find out who authorized the message. KnightNews.com covers the tradition each year and will be out on Greek row Saturday.
Click next page to see the emails KnightNews.com sent to UCF.