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Woman says vow not to ‘deny Jesus’ was motivation in campus freedom fight

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) — As long as she can remember, Polly Olsen, 29, said she has handed out heart-shaped cards on Valentine’s Day. “Basically since I could walk, me and my siblings would distribute them at nursing homes and hospitals,” said Olsen. “My mom would dress us up fancy and we would go hand them out.” The handmade cards included a positive, handwritten message in the center, along with a Bible passage. Olsen continued the tradition when she enrolled part-time at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in 2009. On Valentine’s Day 2018, after distributing about 30 cards on the NWTC campus, Olsen was stopped by a campus security officer after someone anonymously called the security office. She was told that handing out the cards constituted “soliciting” and was in violation of the college’s public assembly policy. Olsen also was told that some people might find the Bible references on her cards offensive. Olsen, through the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, filed a complaint against the college Sept. 4, 2018, claiming that the college was violating her First Amendment rights of free speech. On Sept. 13, 2019, a federal judge in Green Bay ruled that NWTC did infringe on Olsen’s right to free speech.

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