Speech Suppression An Epidemic At Top Colleges

Student Protests
"Free Speech is Hate speech!' - Campuses everywhere

The latest study concludes that almost a 90 percent of the top colleges in the U.S. are in the practice to favor the maintaining of the free speech policies on the campus, with only a one-third of them using strict policies against the free speech.

FIRE – Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, came out with their report on the ‘campus speech and harassment policies’ and ‘speech codes’, and was surprised to find the results showing that out of 461 schools which were part of the report, a little more than half were using a relaxing methods to deal with the freedom of speech.

Among every nine campuses, according to the report, there would be one campus, which would completely safeguard the free-speech zones on campuses, to which the demonstrations were restricted too. Similarly, other activities like flier distributions and other methods of expression were allowed in these portions of the campuses only. As per an estimate, these zones make up less than 1 percent of the whole campus.

Vice President of FIRE – Samantha Harris said that such restrictive policies were “blatantly unconstitutional.”

The Department of Justice of U.S. supports the students filing the lawsuits against the colleges restricting the free speech, openly. This has led the states like Colorado, Missouri, Arizona, Virginia, Kentucky, and Utah, all had the courts bring out special rulings brought out which banned the use of “free zones” in a public university, allowing the students their right to speech.

“Schools, understandably, need to maintain order, and prior restraint policies are attractive and effective,” Samantha said. “It’s the path of least resistance.”

She has the view that the students must always remain on alert for any language or policy, in student materials or handbooks that might cause them to lose their right to speech or a rule that would not allow protests or any such activity as a need for notices before joining or forming clubs and club activity.

“The more broad, the more restrictive,” Harris said to use as a rule of thumb.

She further requested schools to encourage the right to speech and to protect this right of students by providing a statement that is neutral rather than negative.

She further brought forward the 2015 incident of Yale, where a married couple of academics specifically told the students to not get offended by their costumes but were still forced to leave the institution on a Halloween party. This happened not because of the official degree but merely because of the student pressure.

She further said, “You want to be making your position on free speech known before a crisis. Adopt the ‘Chicago Statement’ as a first principle, but then put it in all of the official materials at orientation, and integrate it into other policies.