Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, August 21, 2015

Student Government Supports the First Amendment

The hysteria that sometimes breaks out on college campuses about conservative speakers has spread to issues that aren’t solely conservative. At MIT, the Friends of Israel student groups joined together to hold a carnival in honor of Israeli Independence Day. Like most student activities, the celebration received funding from the Undergraduate Association.

However, the group [email protected] took offense and called for the Undergraduate Association to reverse its decision and take back the funding. They said they were “alarmed” at the implied endorsement, because an event celebrating Israel made them feel “unsafe.” Israeli Independence Day, they said, upsets them because it also marks the Palestinian exodus. The Palestinian group told the student government that they shouldn’t sponsor events that “may distress” people. Note the word “may”—it’s not only events that do upset people; it’s any event that could potentially upset someone.

In a surprising twist, though, the student president of the Undergraduate Association made the right decision. He explained that there were many student groups on campus that could make other students uncomfortable because they might hold different opinions. However, these groups are still entitled to the same activity funding as other groups. The association could either fund everyone or no one, and they chose to fund everyone, because—and here’s the radical idea—it’s good for students to be exposed to different ideas. The association president reminded students that all groups at MIT are welcome to express their views and the student government shouldn’t suppress opinions just because someone doesn’t like them.

Now, that’s a shockingly mature and balanced decision. Those students must be familiar with the First Amendment and what it really means; so maybe there’s hope yet on college campuses.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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