NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - It was all cheers at Paul Ryan's campaign stop at Christopher Newport University.
Opposition groups were silenced by fine print in the school handbook. The '10-day rule' was discovered by the student leader of the CNU Feminist Alliance.
"We found out there's a 10 day minimum. We have to put it through student activities saying that we as a group are going to come together to protest," said Yasmina Lahlou, Co-President of the Feminist Alliance.
But Ryan's appearance was announced just one business day before he arrived, making the 10 day notice impossible.
"This is something that hasn't happened before," said Kevin Hughes, the Dean of Students at CNU.
Hughes says the rule does not limit free speech because it only applies to organizations, not individuals.
"I do feel like our free speech was limited," said Lorin Cahow, President of the Gay Straight Student Union.
Students like Cahow says the rules must change and there are bigger problems to address, such as the limits on where students can protest. Right now, they're limited to the Great Lawn in the center of campus, which is out of sight from the Ferguson Center where big events happen.
"It's kind of like you can do that over here, but we're going to be in another location," said Lahlou. "So it really isn't going to make an impression on whoever is coming."
The American Civil Liberties Union put out a call for CNU to change their policy.
"CNU's policy is clearly in need of revision," ACLU of Virginia Beach Executive Director Claire Gastanaga said. "These students made a good faith effort to comply with the school's rules in order to exercise their free speech rights, but were still denied. The school's policy is out of line with First Amendment principles."
Hughes says the feedback prompted him to schedule a gathering of his own with the student assembly. The dean says it has become obvious, the handbook must be amended.
"What I like about it is it's generating some activism in our students," said Hughes. "It's a great opportunity for our students to be involved in the political process, but also in owning their campus community."
The dean personally invited the student who was denied the right to protest to the student assembly meeting.
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