Poughkeepsie, New York – December 28, 2012 – In response to a letter from the Center for Religious Expression (CRE), Dutchess County Community College (DCCC) agreed to let Dominic Bonasio and other Christians share their faith on its Poughkeepsie, New York campus. Previously, Bonasio had been told by university officials that he would not be permitted to distribute material on campus or even access the common, public spaces on campus. But DCCC changed its mind – and its policy – after being reminded of the constitutional freedoms at stake.
Bonasio wanted to engage students, faculty and staff in dialogue about his faith and distribute Gospel tracts in a venue universally recognized as the marketplace of ideas: the American college campus. Yet, Bonasio was told by Victoria Carrig, DCCC Director of Scheduling, that he was not permitted to hand out any literature on campus and that he must obtain permission from the Dean of Administration to access the common, open areas of campus. College policy had granted university officials with unfettered discretion to decide what speech to allow on campus and imposed a burdensome 15-day advance notice requirement on any request to speak on campus.
Frustrated that his message was being suppressed, Bonasio contacted CRE for help. After receiving the letter from CRE, DCCC drafted a new policy, designating public space in a common area to be a forum for free speech, while reducing the advance notice requirement from 15 days to 3. Also, the college no longer delves into the nature of a speaker’s speech.
“By God’s grace we were able to secure the rights of Dominic Bonasio and others to speak freely and openly about their faith at DCCC, allowing them to contribute to the marketplace of ideas.” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum.