DMACC, student settle for $14k

By Alex Payne.

DMACC settled a lawsuit with a student for almost $14,000 last May, in a case that drew attention from national sites like Fox news.

Former DMACC student Jake Dagel, 21 of Sheldon, filed a lawsuit against DMACC for infringing on students’ Freedom of Speech.

“Thousands of [American] men and women are fighting overseas for our rights, and when I see these rights violated I do what any activist would do,” Dagel told the Campus Chronicle.

Dagel contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom, based out of Arizona, to help him.

“I’ve just known about them,” Dagel said. “I have gone to activist trainings through them.”

Alliance Defending Freedom has 2,200 allied attorneys and has 44 in-house attorneys. They are currently working on 200 cases and receive 2,500 calls for legal help each year. They have had 38 U.S. Supreme Court victories and won 80% of their cases according to their website.

DMACC settled with Dagel for almost $14,000. The Alliance Defending Freedom’s lawyers received $13,726.46, while Dagel received $100.00. According to Dagel, he used the money for bills and he did not do it for the money.

According to DMACC President Rob Denson, the settlement did not use tax dollars or tuition money; it just cost the college’s insurance company.

“It was a waste of his time and it cost [our] insurance money,” Denson said.

The lawsuit claimed that DMACC’s Solicitation and Recruitment Policy was unconstitutional.

The policy made students get a permit and wait 10 business days before being able to express their views and handout fliers to other students. Students were limited to a speech zone located in Building 5.

According to his complaint, filed April 15, 2013 in Federal Court:

On March 28, 2013 Dagel headed outside Building 5 to hand out fliers and voice his opposition to DMACC’s use of $1,000 to purchase 50 tickets for students to attend the Governor’s conference on LGBTQ.

After Dagel began distributing flyers, Campus Security Officer Terry Harrison ordered Dagel to stop distributing his flyers and notified him of the college’s policy.

Dagel informed Harrison of his First Amendment right but followed Harrison’s order to stop.

Harrison and Dagel went to Student Activities Coordinator Erin Wheat’s office. Wheat told Dagel that while he has First Amendment rights on campus, he must comply with the college’s policy.

“He was right, our policy was wrong,” Denson said. “The day after he was here we changed the policy.”

Dagel said he and his lawyers were unaware that the rule had been changed.

“I believe that would be false information,” Dagel said, in response to why he proceeded to sue after DMACC changed the policy March 29, 2013.

Dagel said he knew DMACC’s solicitation policy and as an activist he felt he needed to take action.

“I purposely went outside the speech zone,” Dagel said. “I purposely had security stop me. I called my lawyer before I went out and told him I was going to do it.”

Denson said he was in contact with Dagel and tried to work with him.

“He and I were in email conversation for 16 days where he wanted $1,000 for his [own event], and we set him up and gave him the same thing we gave the other group.” Denson said. “Then he sues us 16 days after the event for something that was no longer even enforced.”

But according to Dagel, DMACC did not give him money for his own event; they just waived the fee for him to use the space at the FFA Enrichment Center on campus.

Dagel’s event hosted controversial, anti-gay preacher Bradlee Dean.

Dagel has since been working with other Iowa activists on a project creating a documentary entitled Unfair. The documentary is aimed to “expose” the IRS. He is currently on a 32-day, 28 state bus tour with the filmmakers, ending in Washington D.C. on October 12.

“I think it is important for you to stand up for your rights,” Dagel said.




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