Free speech has been increasingly under attack on college campuses, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is no exception. On Valentine’s Day 2018, student Polly Olsen handed out valentines with religious messages saying, “Jesus loves you.”
“It’s a tradition that me and my mom have been doing since I was able to walk,” Olsen told The Federalist.
While passing out valentines, campus security stopped her and said she had violated the university’s speech code and free speech zones. According to her lawyers, an anonymous person had called and complained to the university.
When Olsen asked how she was violating the university’s speech code, campus security told her some people might find her message offensive.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued on Olsen’s behalf, arguing that the college was violating her First Amendment rights.
Even President Trump uplifted Olsen’s message. Trump hosted Olsen at the White House and talked about her story as yet another example of universities infringing on students’ First Amendment rights.
"Some people might find her cards offensive. I don't." —@realDonaldTrump on the case of Polly Olsen, who was restricted to a "Free Speech Zone" for Valentines reading "Jesus Loves You." pic.twitter.com/ngVh7r3wki
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 22, 2019
After a year and a half battle, on Sept. 16, 2019, a federal judge ruled in favor of Olsen.
Although Olsen was forced to bypass her tradition of handing out valentines in 2019, she says it was worth it in the end.
“It was worth all the fight,” Olsen said. “To preserve our freedom for the next generation to come is worth the battle now.”
This victory for Olsen and free speech occurs right before Constitution Day, celebrated Sept. 17.