Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, May 27, 2013

Colleges Suppress Free Speech

Many colleges permit free speech only in special "free speech zones," which can cover less than one percent of the campus. At Indiana University Southeast (which is taxpayer-funded) students "wishing to express their opinions" are permitted to do so only within the university's free speech zone that occupies less than one percent of the campus and is much too small to accommodate very many students. But even if they are in the zone, students may speak freely only if they have submitted an application form at least five days in advance. This is unfortunate for students who want to comment on the weather but did not plan to do so five days in advance. The students must have difficulties participating in classroom discussions and completing homework assignments if they are unable to express opinions. American taxpayers should not be funding this anti-educational suppression.

Washington State University, which receives millions of taxpayer dollars, has a speech code declaring that speech "that is injurious, or potentially injurious to a person's...emotional...well-being...is subject to disciplinary action." That speech code could be used to punish students who quote the Bible. It could be used to punish students who criticize other students' academic arguments.

The University of Texas at San Antonio (also tax-funded) has a speech code stating that "anonymous publications are prohibited." But some of America's greatest writings have been anonymous. Thomas Paine's Common Sense was originally published anonymously, and so was Edgar Allan Poe's first collection of poems. By banning anonymous publications, the university is using taxpayer money to stifle important ideas.

College is supposed to provide an environment for students to grow intellectually. Speech codes destroy that environment and defeat the purpose of having universities. Universities should not be censoring the conservative talk of their students.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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