University of Wisconsin-River Falls official tells conservative student with ‘free speech ball’ to move or face the cops.

“It’s the policy that conservative students should shut up and keep their heads down if they know what’s good for them.”

University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus official told a freshman student that police would be notified if she refused to get a permit before rolling a “free speech ball” around a grassy area of the public campus.

Sophie Salmon is a freshman at UW-River Falls who is trying to start a Turning Point USA chapter at her new school. As part of her recruitment efforts, Salmon inflated a six-foot “free speech ball” on Thursday. The ball was designed to serve as a platform for students to write whatever they pleased, but it also attracted the attention of university administrators.

“Kids can’t just roll a ball around?”    

After less than half an hour of rolling the ball around campus lawns, Salmon was confronted by UW-River Falls Conference and Contract Services Manager Kristin Barstad outside River Falls’ main building, University Center. The official informed the student that she lacked the proper permissions needed to exercise her free speech on public university property and needed to take the ball elsewhere.

Barstad said that if the student declined to leave the areas, then campus police would be summoned “based on the university policy that you’re violating,” although Barstad said “I’m not going to know that [policy] off the top of my head” but added that Director of University Center and Dining Services Cara Rubis “is going to have those policies.”

Neither Barstad nor Rubis responded to Campus Reform when asked which policy Salmon was allegedly violating.

The incident comes just one month after Campus Reform reported that Wisconsin state lawmakers introduced a bill that, according to a news release, would “direct the UW Board of Regents to implement a policy on free expression which states…that any person lawfully on campus may protest or demonstrate, but actions that interfere with the expressive rights of others are subject to sanction.”

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