"What he did was wrong:" Student behind free-speech confrontation speaks out

Student behind Fresno State free-speech confrontation recalls moment

"Excuse me, we have permission for all of this," Fresno State student Bernadette Tasy can be heard saying. 

"No, you don't," responds Fresno State assistant professor Greg Thatcher. 

It's a phrase Tasy will say more than five times in this less than three-minute recording, showing students, then Thatcher, wiping out Tasy's group's pro-life chalk messages on the Fresno State campus.

"You have permission to put it down, I have permission to get rid of it," Thatcher said. 

"He indicated that he thought what he was doing was part of his free speech, but what he did was wrong," Tasy said. "The only permit a student needs to speak on campus, is the First Amendment."

University President Dr. Joseph Castro quickly released a statement Thursday, siding with the pro-life student group, saying quote:

"The students who wrote the chalk messages received prior university approval and were well within their rights to express themselves in this manner. Those disagreeing with the students' message have a right to their own speech, but they do not have the right to erase or stifle someone else's speech under the guise of their own right to free speech."

Castro also disputed Thatcher's argument...

"Free speech is free speech in the free speech area, it's a pretty simple concept, OK?" Thatcher can be heard saying to Tasy in the video. "This does not constitute a free speech area, OK?"

Castro says, free speech is not limited to an area.

"University professors should be encouraging free speech on campus, not erasing it from it's existence," Tasy said. "So what professor Thatcher did was wrong."

One of Tasy's attorneys also spoke with us over the phone. He says, incidents like this one, are part of a trend being seen on college campuses. 

"That's part of the reason that we brought this lawsuit, to send a message, not just to professor Thatcher, but to professors, officials across the country," Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Travis Barham said. "That if you go out, and you censor student speech, you will be held accountable, and there are consequences."

At just 21-years-old, Tasy's become the face of a lawsuit, but she says, it's not just about her organization or about the pro-life movement.

"You don't have to be pro-life to, to believe that everybody has their right to free speech, and so, my greatest concern is for my club and for other groups on campus, to be able to exercise their free speech," Tasy said. "Because the only permit you need to speak on campus, is the First Amendment."

We also reached out to Thatcher, he says he feels no need to talk, that this has all been quote "blown out of proportion," he even went on to call the lawsuit hilarious.

Tasy and her group are suing Thatcher for allegedly violating their First Amendment rights, they're also seeking an order that would prevent him from interfering with their group again. 

Reporting in Fresno, Megan Rupe. 


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