To stop student activism, private university claims it has ’eminent domain’ over public sidewalk

“Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been crushing peaceful student activism for months because it targets the school’s alleged moves to undermine a 127-year-old student-run union, drawing sharp warnings from state and national civil-liberties groups.

Now the private upstate New York school is claiming it controls a public sidewalk in order to stop continued “Save the Union” activism.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education publicly called out RPI Monday, the same day the university touted its eighth-best college ranking in New York state by College Choice.

FIRE’s Adam Steinbaugh said RPI students “looked at tax maps” to determine where they wouldn’t be harassed by administrators or campus security, and determined that “the streets and sidewalks” outside an RPI sports facility “appear to be publicly owned.” They played it safe by staying far from any building entrances and not impeding foot traffic.

After they started handing out buttons for the related alumni-led “Renew Rensselaer” campaign, two campus security officers told the students the university “had control over the sidewalk during hockey games because of ’eminent domain,’” according to Steinbaugh.”
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Piper, Greg. The College Fix 6 March 2018.