INCLUDING "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST": The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has the story.
The college's justification is that apparently some high school students also go to the college part-time, but that seems a pretty poor reason to limit student groups from showing movies on-campus to adult students -- likely the great majority of the audience. (If necessary, the college could insist that the groups card all attendees to make sure they're 17 or over.) Check out the response of the college's lawyer, which disagrees with some of FIRE's allegation but concedes that the college has a no-R-rated-movie policy.
I suspect the policy is constitutional: The college may limit student groups' use of its facilities in viewpoint-neutral ways and the ban on R-rated movies would probably be treated as viewpoint-neutral (though I realize that one could argue the contrary). The ratings aren't legally binding; a theater that lets kids in to R-rated movies couldn't be prosecuted for that. But a college may choose not to open up its classrooms after class hours to such movies.
Also, that the school allowed a seemingly sexually related skit to be performed at a college theater doesn't really undermine the policy's validity. A school can legitimately conclude that R-rated movies are going to be more appealing to underage kids than skits would be, plus the college may feel that it's cost-effective to rely on movie ratings, but too difficult (and too prone to viewpoint discrimination) for the college to make its own judgments about unrated material such as skits.
But that doesn't make the policy sensible or proper for an educational institution. The college may not have aspirations to being a Harvard, but it is a college, in which most of the students are adults.
Community colleges and not just Ivy League schools ought to want to broaden their students' intellectual lives, and to treat their students as grown-ups rather than children. The college's lawyer complains that if the college allowed a broader range of speech, "[o]ne could only imagine the bizarre clubs and activities that would be formed." Heaven forbid that bizarre clubs and bizarre speech be present on college campuses.
Related Posts (on one page):
- OK to Show "The Passion of the Christ" at Community College:
- Community College Bars R-Rated Movies,