University Police arrested Bryan Lord, the owner of Books & More, at theSpecial Events Center Wednesday for violating a trespass warning issuedlast week.
Lord was there to advertise for his off-campus bookstore, which is oneof several area competitors of the USF Bookstore.
UP informed Lord June 6 that if he came on campus again, he would bearrested for his continued violation of the university’s commercialsolicitation policy, according to Mike Klingebiel, public informationofficer for UP.
Lord, along with three employees from his stores around Tampa, arrivedat the SEC Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. to distribute fliers and promotionalitems. For two hours and 20 minutes, Lord and his crew approached newstudents and parents on their way to the SEC for freshman orientation.
Lord said he expected to be arrested as soon as he began talking tostudents. However, University Police didn’t approach Lord until an hourafter students entered the SEC for orientation. Lord had said earlier itwould be hypocritical if UP waited to arrest him after orientationbegan.
“I think it would be silly for them to arrest me more than 90 minutesafter I’ve been here,” Lord said before his arrest. “It will be a sadday for USF if I am arrested today.”
As the police officers were placing handcuffs on Lord, they asked him ifhe understood why he was being arrested.
“I’m just here for my constitutional right to free speech,” he said tothe arresting officers.
Lord said he believes his actions are constitutionally protected asfreedom of speech, and that he is being singled out because his majorcompetition is on USF?s property.
“I feel like I’m being discriminated against,” he said. “This is publicproperty and I am parked in a paid, metered parking space. I don’t knowif they read the constitution here at USF, but I am simply exercising myconstitutional right to free speech.”
Klingebiel said it is not a free speech issue. According to Debra King,senior attorney for USF General Counsel, Lord does not have the right tosolicit on campus.
“He may believe he has legitimate concerns,” King said. “But theuniversity is for education, not so members of the community can come oncampus and do what they want.”
The university’s chief priority is to provide an environment forlearning, according to Michael Reich, interim director for mediarelations. Reich said that Lord is disrupting the learningenvironment.
“What we have is someone that has created a theater for the media,bringing with him a television station in tow,” Reich said. “And that isnot good for our students. He is soliciting his business on campus andhe?s trying to cut corners.”
As students walked by, Lord briefly gave them his sales pitch and movedon to the next group of people.
“He told my mother and I that he was competing with the on-campusbookstore,” said Whitney Sickels, an incoming freshman. “He told us hecouldn?t hand us a flyer. I thought that was kind of odd.”
According to Lord, most students were receptive to his approach and hedidn’t feel he was being a nuisance at all. Deanna Edwards, anotherincoming freshman that was stopped as well, said she thought theoff-campus solution is a great idea.
“If it’s cheaper and it saves me money – college is already tooexpensive,” Edwards said.
However, some students didn?t agree with Lord’s approach. Dave Mincberg,student body vice president, was walking to orientation as well andwitnessed Lord’s display.
“I think it’s obnoxious the way they are soliciting,” Mincberg said.”This guy is (harassing) them. There are better ways to advertise.”
Lord agrees there are better ways to advertise. He said he only came oncampus because the registrar’s office would not provide him with a listcontaining students’ names and addresses.
The list used to be available for purchase on disk for $50, but has notbeen available for two years because the registrar has fielded too manycomplaints from parents and students.
According to Lord, the disk helps him advertise to students and he isentitled to it under Florida’s Sunshine Laws. However, studentinformation is not public record, according to King.
“Just because the information may be released doesn?t mean it must bereleased,” King said.
Lord said the registrar can’t make the decision to no longer sell thelist of names.
“Just because USF has a policy doesn?t mean it is legal,” Lord said. “Idon’t think USF has the authority to overrule state law of releasingpublic information.”
Lord’s other issue, and main reason he said he is being discriminatedagainst, is with the USF Bookstore, which he claims is also withholdinginformation he is entitled to by state law.
The USF Bookstore is charged by the state to compile every book titlefor each semester’s classes and create a “booklist,” according to GraceMcQueen, manager for the USF Bookstore on campus.
“Our competitors benefit from the work our bookstore does,” McQueen said.
Lord said the problem with the USF Bookstore is they are setting aschedule dictating when they will provide the booklist, which he said heis entitled to.
“The booklist is vital to our success as a business and it should beavailable to us anytime we want it,” Lord said.
While McQueen allows her competitors to come on campus and access theteachers’ book requisitions as they come in, Lord said he wants acomplete list every time he comes on campus.
“We work hard to be reasonable with our competitors,” McQueen said. “Wedon’t think Lord is being treated any differently than anyone else. Buthe is the only one who has a problem with us.”