URGENT ACTION NEEDED

Defend Free Speech and the Rights of Third Parties!

Complaints regarding the politics of the Socialist Action campaign have led administrators at Manchester Community College to require campaign volunteers on the MCC campus to sit behind a table while collecting signatures to put their candidate on the November ballot.  Volunteers – including an MCC student – have been told that if they approach a person on campus to ask for a signature they will face arrest, making signature collection next to impossible.We believe this represents a threat to free speech on all Connecticut campuses and to the ability of third party candidates to obtain ballot status.  We strongly urge supporters of free speech to contact the campus administrators below to express support for these rights on MCC’s campus.

The first complaint against Socialist Action was lodged by a member of the Young Republicans who boasted about his ability to help kick socialists off the campus on his blog.  His post ends with, “We already have one Socialist in office we don’t need more, and with the help of The Greater Manchester Young Republicans we prevented another one today.” His blog post can be seen here: http://gmyr.blogspot.com/

After this incident we were told we had to check in with the office of Student Affairs before collecting signatures.  We did so on June 16th without any problems.On Wednesday June 23rd, while two campaign activists (including an MCC student) collected signatures on campus (after having obtained permission to do so) a complaint was made “against disturbing literature being pushed on persons” (quoting from the police report) alongside two anonymous complaints which made no specific allegations other than that the volunteers were members of the “Communist Party.”

In response the campus police told the two volunteers that they were required to remain at their seats at the table, and that if they approached people for signatures they would face arrest.  Two police officers were then stationed about 30 feet from either side of the table.

We met with the Dean of Student Affairs and the Assistant to the Dean of Student Affairs on the afternoon of Wednesday June 30th to defend our right to political speech.  They have said they need to talk more with other Administrators, faculty and staff before making a decision on the right to petition or distribute literature on campus, and will contact us by Tuesday, July 5th.This is a critical moment for defenders of free speech to express their opinion to the MCC administration.

Today the space for open political debate, discussion and organizing is extremely narrow.  The arduous but elementary task of collecting signatures to put new candidates and parties on the ballot requires the ability to approach people for signatures – especially in spaces where many people congregate.  Most of these spaces are now privately owned.  But Manchester Community is a public college funded by tax dollars and student tuition.  It is an institution of education where open debate, discussion, and organizing should not simply be defended, but encouraged.  Political speech and activity will always be controversial. Simple differences of opinion cannot justify curtailing the right to express political opinions or to seek out like-minded individuals.

Please call and/or e-mail the Dean of Student Affairs and the Assistant to the Dean of Student Affairs to express your support for the right to collect signatures and distribute political literature on Manchester Community College’s campus.  Please be polite and courteous, but firm.  The administrators can be reached here:

Duncan Harris, Dean of Student Affairs
(860) 512-3202
GHarris@mcc.commnet.edu

Umesh Vig, Assistant to the Dean of Student Affairs
(860) 512-3204
UVig@mcc.commnet.edu

Feel free to contact us for more information at 860-986-9750 or votesocialistaction@gmail.com

Text from the “disturbing literature” can be read here:
http://votesocialistaction.org/about-the-campaign/
http://votesocialistaction.org/demands/
http://votesocialistaction.org/about/

Thank you so much for your support!

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