The story begins in early March of this year, when Montclair State University's (NJ) YAL chapter, of which I am president, began advertising for our Free Speech speaker. The event was meant to be in reaction to the story of MSU graduate student and YAL member Joe Aziz, which made national news after Foundation for Individual Rights in Education stepped in.
Long story short, Aziz was slapped with an unconstitutional gag order by MSU's administration after writing a rude joke in a YouTube comment in response to the video posted by the girlfriend of the young man who heckled YAL's guest speaker Steve Lonegan, back in September 2012. The gag order stated that he was not to speak to the young woman nor to speak about her. Aziz broke the terms of this gag order by joking about the situation in a private Facebook group, where one of the other members printed out his posts and showed them to the school administration. Aziz was suspended for six months, and would have stayed that way if FIRE had not raised a media storm in national and international publications. Under so much press scrutiny, MSU backed off and rescinded the suspension, allowing Aziz to re-enlist in all his classes and clearing his record.
To raise awareness of free speech on college campuses, YAL hosted FIRE's Associate Director Peter Bonilla as a guest speaker, with Aziz making the opening remarks. This event took place on Thursday, March 7, the week before spring break.