One young woman's lengthy battle to spread the Gospel at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is now dragging into its fifth year.
Since 2014, Polly Olsen has handed out Valentine's Day cards with biblically themed messages to students and staff on campus. During that time, she has often been met with resistance in the form of the school's public assembly policy, which forbids the "displaying of signs or mass distribution of literature with offensive content or that is likely to or intended to cause a disruption."
Finally, in February of last year, that tradition ended when security workers at NWTC stopped the 29-year-old from distributing the inspirational messages at the school's student center. They then warned that some may find the notes displayed on the heart-shaped cards offensive.
Watch the video below of Olsen in 2018 distributing her Valentines in the student center:
Some of the card's 'offensive' messages included the following:
"You are special! 1 John 4:11,"
"God is love! 1 John 4:11,"
"Jesus Loves you! Romans 5:8;" and
"You are loved and cared for! 1 Peter 5:7"
According to The College Fix, school officials claimed that by handing out the cards in an area designated a non-speech zone, Olsen was violating the college's speech code.
"I have been trying since February 14, 2014 to have this policy changed," she told The Fix in an email. "At that time, I was told by school officials that the policy would be changed and they would look into the staff being educated on students' constitutional rights. They agreed that I would be allowed to continue to hand out my Valentines… I have spent five years now, trying to get this policy changed."
Frustrated, Olsen took matters into her own hands in September and sued the school.
However, administration officials aren't budging and are instead calling on the judge to dismiss the case without prejudice. Their reasoning? Olsen's practice of distributing her "Jesus Loves You" Valentines was nothing more than an attempt to challenge what she views as the school's restrictive assembly policies.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), which is representing Olsen, filed a summary judgment brief last week calling on the judge to declare NWTC's speech code to be "unconstitutional on its face." The legal group points out that the school's policy is vague, failing to define terms like "offensive content," "literature" or "disruptive." In short, WILL accuses the school of muzzling its client due to the religious nature of her Valentines cards.
Olsen, a staunch advocate of free speech, hopes her case sets what she sees as a much-need precedent.
"Now that NWTC has forced this freedom of speech issue into the court system, I not only want the policy to be changed, but I want a judgment by the court," Olsen told The Fix, adding that she hopes "this case can be used by others to help preserve the rights of freedom of speech and religion for all students and American people."
"Freedom of speech is at the core of American freedom and what this country was built on," Olsen declared.