Cal Poly Pomona agreed to revise its campus free-speech policies as part of a settlement reached with a student who sued after he was restricted from handing out leaflets promoting a vegan diet, court papers obtained Friday show.

Nicolas Tomas. Photo via thefire.org

In the settlement, the college said it has strengthened policies to ensure that such free-speech activities as passing out literature are not limited to a single designated area and do not require advance permits.

In addition, university police and staff in the Office of Student Life and Culture Centers will receive training on free-speech guarantees.

The college also agreed to pay student Nicolas Tomas $35,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, according to the July 16 settlement.

“We want to be absolutely clear on this issue: Cal Poly Pomona cares deeply about free speech,” Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton, acting vice president for student affairs, said in a statement.

“It is essential to our mission as a learning-centered university and a vital part of a vibrant campus culture,” she said. “A free marketplace of ideas helps our students grow as well-informed and confident individuals.”

Tomas, a 24-year-old nutrition major and animal rights activist, sued the university in March in Los Angeles federal court, alleging that the school violated his First Amendment rights when police and administrators prevented him from handing out fliers near a parking structure and required him to obtain permits and badges.

— City News Service

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