Former ASU student files appeal against Memorial Union trespassing conviction

A former ASU student is appealing a trespassing conviction from an incident on the Tempe campus in March 2022, saying the university’s campus is a “public forum.”

According to appeal documents filed Thursday, January 26, Tim Tizon, a student at the time of the incident, was arrested by the Memorial Union ASU Police Department on March 3, 2022 and charged with third-degree criminal trespassing.

Reilly Stephens, an associate attorney at Liberty Justice Center who filed the appeal on Tizon’s behalf, said, “The state of Arizona has specifically said that the public areas on our public campuses are open to the public and are referred to as what is called a public forum speak freely.”

Appointment documents list Tizon as a member of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian political activism club with a campus presence. According to the appeal, on the afternoon of March 3, Tizon set up a table with the club’s logo outside of MU and followed only some of ASU’s rules for table-tapping in that part of campus. Tizon then handed out copies of the US Constitution to passing students.

But Tizon did not reserve the spot where he set the table, his attorney said. Per ASU table seating rules, clubs and organizations must reserve a seat at least one week in advance. An ASU spokesman said spaces around campus, particularly near MU and the Hayden Library, need to be reserved because of the high level of foot traffic in the area and the number of clubs wanting to use the space.

An ASU spokesman said the university is asking organizations that settle in these areas without reservations to relocate. The university said ASU staffers asked Tizon to relocate and he refused several times, and then he was arrested and charged.

Stephens said Tizon is out of the way of foot traffic and is in a public forum, so he was wrongly arrested and convicted of trespassing. He was found guilty of third-degree trespassing by a Maricopa County court on Oct. 14. Under Arizona state law, third-degree trespassing occurs when a person receives a reasonable request from a property owner to vacate the property and refuses to do so.

“You can’t convict Tim and have a criminal complaint on his record for distributing copies of the United States Constitution in a public place that hasn’t disturbed anyone else,” Stephens said.

Arizona state law states that universities cannot restrict a student’s speech on campus unless the restrictions are reasonable or “leave sufficient alternative channels for the transmission of the information.”

Stephens said there were no other club or organization tables competing for the seat Tizon was in that day and that Tizon was asked to move to an “empty grass seat across the library where nobody is.” to move to further distribute copies of the US Constitution.

In an emailed statement, ASU said most of the campus is non-reservable and individuals in those areas are “welcome to walk around and distribute literature.”

Young Americans for Liberty student rights director JP Kirby said in a press release that ASU is attacking the students’ speech.

“We hope the courts will stand with Tim against ASU’s assault on the student speech and assembly,” Kirby said in the press release. “We are committed to fighting for students in the state of Arizona and elsewhere so that no activist feels like they have to be arrested in public places for sharing their beliefs with their classmates.”

Edited by Piper Hansen, Reagan Priest and Greta Forslund.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] and @shanebrennan36 on twitter.

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Shane BrennanPolitical Reporter

Shane Brennan is a political reporter at State Press. He also works for Cronkite News and Blaze Radio.

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