Student says she was told not to pray because she was not in 'free speech' area

A student at Clemson University, in Clemson, South Carolina, is upset after she said an administrator with the school told her she was not allowed to pray on an area of campus, because it was not a free speech area.

Kyra Palange told WYFF that she was walking across campus when she saw a man sitting in a chair with a sign that said, "Prayer."

>> Read more trending stories

"I approached him and we sat down to pray for a few minutes," Palange told Young America's Foundation, which is an organization for politically conservative students. "When we finished, a man from the university approached us and said he could not be praying there, because it was not a designated free speech area and presented the person who was praying with a form for the procedures for applying for solicitation on campus. He told him he had to leave."

WSPA reported that the man from the university approached the pair after they were done praying and told him there were policies for using the space in that manner. The man filled out the necessary papers, WSPA said.

The staff member told the man he could continue to pray in the space as long as he wanted to, but without the paperwork being processed he would have to remove the sign.

But Palange was upset. She recorded some of her own interactions with the administrator, who identified himself on her video as Shawn Jones, assistant director for Client Services at the university.

"This is not a designated free speech area," Jones said in the video. "We have designated areas on campus. with him not being a student or faculty or staff, then he has to go through specific procedures regarding the reservation process."

"Clemson University supports the rights of students, faculty and staff of all religious faiths to express their beliefs on our campuses," the school said in a statement. "Religious expression occurs regularly at Clemson, including in the many religious-based student organizations recognized by the university."

Of the incident, university officials said if the man "wanted to erect a sign and invite a gathering, he would need to reserve one of the areas of campus designated as available to the public for this type of activity."

Mark Land, vice president of University Relations, told TheAssociated Press anyone who is not a student has to fill out a form, saying they would like to use campus space to assemble a group or speak. He told WYFF there are three free-speech campus spaces in which non-students can assemble.

The policy is not unlike those at other public universities.