American Universities Severely Limit Students' Free Speech, Study Finds
American Universities are severely infringing on students’ freedom of speech, according to a new report.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) found that 59 percent of 427 colleges and universities analyzed restrict free speech.
At Troy University in Alabama, any comments or conduct that’s deemed unwelcome or offensive to a person in relation to sex, race, age, religion national origin, color, marital status, pregnancy, disability or veteran’s status, is banned.
Samantha Harris, the director of policy research at FIRE, said the rule restricts political speech. “That means that the most sensitive members of the university community get to determine what speech is and isn’t permissible.”
Longwood University in Virginia limits speeches, demonstrations and distribution of literature to one area of campus. It requires students to notify officials five days in advance.
“Requiring students to wait five days after say 9/11 of the Boston Marathon bombing or any kind of event that people want to respond to immediately really deprives those students the immediacy of their message,” Harris said.
She warned that any policy that gives administrators sole discretion to decide what is intolerant, e.g. Northeastern University, has the potential be used against students who want to criticize the university. “People need to be allowed to be passionate without having to worry about being deemed uncivil or disrespectful.”