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Education Censorship Politics Your Rights Online

How Free Speech Died On Campus 530

theodp writes "The WSJ catches up with FIRE's Greg Lukianoff and his crusade to expose how universities have become the most authoritarian institutions in America. In Unlearning Liberty, Lukianoff notes that baby-boom Americans who remember the student protests of the 1960s tend to assume that U.S. colleges are still some of the freest places on earth. But that idealized university no longer exists. Today, university bureaucrats suppress debate with anti-harassment policies that function as de facto speech codes. FIRE maintains a database of such policies on its website. What they share, lifelong Democrat Lukianoff says, is a view of 'harassment' so broad and so removed from its legal definition that 'literally every student on campus is already guilty.'"
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How Free Speech Died On Campus

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  • by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:27PM (#42020011) Homepage
    Norfolk State: "The policy broadly prohibits using any university internet technology resources "to further personal views" or "religious or political causes." It also prohibits downloading or transmitting "inappropriate messages or images," without defining "inappropriate."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:34PM (#42020077)

    unless the school does it

    University of Delaware Requires Students to Undergo Ideological Reeducation

  • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @02:01PM (#42020321)

    That worked for Springer, Stern, Coulter, Imas, and Limbaugh!

    Right up until FOX has to step in and get the Supreme Court to declare "lying" as protected free speech... To keep them on the air.

    The CONSERVATIVES RULE the airwaves for non-PC talk. Even Springer and Stern are "Right" shows because they treat their subjects as "freak of the week" while shouting "look how offensive I am!"

    It's sad when NPR is the last "liberal" holdout.. As they make an honest attempt to have discussion . Even the BBC gets labeled as liberal when they are the closest thing we have to 1960's style news people remember.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, 2012 @02:06PM (#42020361)

    No...the issue is that FIRE says it is concerned about freedom at campuses in general, but is largely silent whenever, for example, private religious institutions like Liberty University trounce all over their student's freedom of speech.

  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @02:12PM (#42020417)

    "If my guy does it, you're just overreacting if you disagree," and "if their guy does it, it's automatically suspect, move along, nothing to see."

    Except, you and the guy you are supporting are completely wrong about what's going on here. This really is a Murdock propaganda piece. Look, sometimes a person is reliably and consistently stupid and evil. This means saying "oh, I'm sure Ghengis isn't riding towards those young girls to be nice to them" is not prejudice, just justifiable wisdom. Now your point would be really great if this was an exception. But let's see what I find if I look it up.


    At Western Michigan University, it is considered harassment to hold a "condescending sex-based attitude."

    Actual policy [wmich.edu] (I'm not going to include the context here; please read yourself):

    Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual conduct which is related to any condition of employment or evaluation of student performance.

    and in a separate paragraph near to but not related to the definition of harassment, the only use of the word condescending:

    All persons should be sensitive to situations that may affect or cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation or may display a condescending sex-based attitude towards a person.

    If something is put in a media outlet which belongs to Murdock, assuming that the truth is the opposite will only make you wrong about 10% of the time. In this case, it's about Murdock trying to attack the freedom of speech of the people at universities.

  • by DirePickle ( 796986 ) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @02:17PM (#42020461)
    Your first clue should have been that this was an article from the WSJ.
  • by sed quid in infernos ( 1167989 ) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @03:07PM (#42020933)

    Actually, public universities have very little power to restrict student speech on campus. See, for example, Rosenberger v. University of Virginia [wikipedia.org], where the Supreme Court required the University to fund a Christian magazine on the same basis it funded student-run secular magazines. Just a few years before that happened, the University tried to defund a conservative magazine. The argument was that commenting on the activities of NOW and other liberal organizations was an inappropriate "political" use of student activity funds; no one seemed take into account that the activities being commented on were funded by those same fees. That one didn't go to court, because of a media storm.

    The fact that the students are in some sense "using" state-funded resources doesn't really provide a constitutional basis to restrict their private speech. If resource are made available for private student speech, a public university has very little leeway to favor one viewpoint over another--and this includes attempts to exclude entire topics in a supposedly neutral manner. This error has been repeated quite often in this thread, and it's one reason organizations like FIRE are needed: the public is woefully uneducated on this issue. For example, if a public university allows students to hand out flyers on the quad as a general matter, they can't really control the content of those flyers. And if they restrict the flyers to "official" university functions, they have to ensure that the definition of official is precise and hat they don't allow exceptions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, 2012 @03:12PM (#42020959)

    I'm a Republican and I'm not whiny. Let's look at it from my perspective. The colleges are indoctrinating the youth with no opposition. Whenever you are on campus and you decent from the left wing ideology you get harassed. My free speech is being stifled. You call it hate speech but let's address each of your points.

    Harassment of women: This is strictly about abortion. For sake of argument pretend you believe life begins at conception. Would you be OK with a form of birth control that ended a human life each time it was used? You can argue that life doesn't begin at conception but that's not the point. The point is, if yo believe life DOES begin at conception then how could you act any different than the Republicans do? Other than that, there is no harassment of women from Republicans.

    Minorities: Affirmative action, you can't make up for past discrimination by enforcing racial discrimination upon everyone. I didn't discriminate but because I am white I don't have the same chances of success as a minority because we are putting people into positions, be it colleges or jobs, based on their skin color rather than their ability. Thinking this way makes me a racist. You had that situation in NY where no minority passed the advancement test so all the guys who did pass, all white, were not given a promotion and they rescheduled the tests to get more minorities to pass. Discrimination against whites in the name of fairness.

    Gays: All about marriage. I had a gay room mate. I have many friends who are gay, I live in California. I am against gay marriage. You don't change words to suit your ideology. Example, the term gay. There was a commercial by Wanda Sykes where a guy used the word gay to me stupid. Nothing to do with homosexuality. You know, they even spell it Ghey rather than gay. She chastises the guy and say "don't steal our word." Catch the irony in that, since the word was stolen by the homosexual community and totally changed the meaning. I don't care if you are gay. I understand how tough things are for gays. But times are changing and the "harassment" has to do with aggressive homosexuals forcing their lifestyle upon society rather than fitting in. You know, the same way you see religious people forcing their way into your life. Of course I see the gay community being far more aggressive about forcing their lifestyle into my life than religious people are. But that's OK with you because you can be a hypocrite because you care. Me, I'm a homophobe because I say "just be gay and get out of my face."

    Muslims: sorry, I can't give you a rational argument you will accept (not that I expect you to accept my point of view on any of these). Muslims are responsible for 99% of all terrorist attacks in the world. To not understand that is just more political correctness. You are willing to condemn Christians because some priest molest children (by the way these are GAY priests in most cases if not all). Or some nut job kill an abortion doctor but you won't say a thing about the Muslim religion which basically does nothing in the way of denouncing terrorist attacks based on the belief in Allah. Of course if they do their own brethren will silence them.

    as for "anyone else not like them" pure bullshit. You people on the left chastise and berate anyone who is a Republican. Women get told they are idiots for being Republican. Blacks get ostracized by their own for being Republican. Look at what happened to Stacey Dash after she said she was supporting Romney. You guys are very hateful towards others who don't share your opinion.

    I know this was long but you really should consider your skewed point of view towards Republicans and even if you don't agree with what I said, perhaps we are really hateful people, just not as enlightened as you. Maybe you should help rather than hate. How can youchange our point of view by insulting us and spewing hate?

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @05:46PM (#42022015)

    The College Republicans regret the controversy surrounding our planned lecture featuring Ann Coulter. The size and severity of opposition to this event have caught us by surprise, and caused us to question our decision to welcome her to Rose Hill. Looking at the concerns raised about Ms. Coulter, many of them reasonable, we have determined that some of her comments do not represent the ideals of the College Republicans and are inconsistent with both our organization's mission, and the University's. We regret that we failed to thoroughly research her before announcing, that is our error and we do not excuse ourselves for it. Consistent with our strong disagreement with certain comments by Ms. Coulter we have chosen to cancel the event and rescind Ms. Coulterâ(TM)s invitation to speak at Fordham. We made this choice freely, before Father McShaneâ(TM)s email was sent out and we became aware of his feelings --- had the President simply reached out to us before releasing his statement he would have learned that the event was being cancelled. We hope the University community will forgive the College Republicans for our error, and continue to allow us to serve as its main voice of the sensible, compassionate, and conservative political movement that we strive to be. We fell short of that standard this time, and we offer our sincere apologies.

    Ted Conrad, President

    UPDATED: McShane Responds to College Republicans' Cancellation of Ann Coulter Event [fordhamobserver.com]

    The Republican Club tried to get the Student Association to spring for George Will, but was capped at $10,000. Fordham College Republicans withdraw Coulter invite [dailycaller.com]

    The Speaker's Bureau:

    Campus Speaker & Board of Advisors Member - Ann Coulter [cblpi.org]

    Click here to host an event with Ann on your campus!

    Fun times:

    The incident followed a Monday night lecture at the University of Western Ontario, where Coulter told a Muslim student to "take a camel" as an alternative to flying.

    Coulter made the comment as she responded to a question from student Fatima Al-Dhaher, who asked about previous comments in which Coulter said Muslims shouldn't be allowed on airplanes and should take "flying carpets" instead. Al-Dhaher noted she did not own a flying carpet and asked what she should take as an alternative transportation. Coulter did not deny making the flying carpet comment and replied to the university student, "What mode of transportation? Take a camel," to jeers and cheers. It was a decidedly pro-Coulter audience. One man, who identified himself as a U.S. citizen, described U.S. President Barack Obama as a "Marxist."

    She is well-known for her vehement views against Muslims. In a post-September 11 column, she wrote that the U.S. should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

    Coulter, who often comments on Fox News, once said Canada is "lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent" after the Canadian government did not join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Coulter speech cancelled over fears of violence [ctvnews.ca]

  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @05:52PM (#42022057)

    I don't think it's clear at all there,

    I'd agree there. It's an awful piece of writing which the university should be ashamed of. However it doesn't actually say anything threatening and if they did try it on they would lose of ever pushed to it.

    this page [umich.edu] this page is more coherent, laying out the "hostile environment" terms. Whether harassment has occurred is "judged both objectively and subjectively", which is another way of saying "No Men Allowed."

    I definitely support the principle that "The issue is not whether you are paranoid, the issue is whether you are paranoid enough" but in this case you are being paranoid ;-) The fact is though, that this is basically just a direct cut'n paste from Davis, the related supreme court judgement. For the University it's saying we match exactly what the supreme court told us to do. For real life it's saying that you can't be done for harassment just because some delicate flower felt harassed; you have to actually objectively harass them. It's also saying that if they were (literally) asking for it and don't feel that they were harassed, it's still okay even if, according to the objective standards you could have been said to be harassing them.

    In other words, this particular statement is pretty much 100% on the side of sanity and definitely doesn't mean "man == harasser", however much Andrea Dworkin might wish it to mean that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, 2012 @06:13PM (#42022181)

    In any decent university there is an academic appeals committee where, if the professor isn't abiding by the terms laid out in the course syllabus, the professor's evaluation can be overruled. Furthermore, consideration of such cases often involves independent evaluation of student work. In my experience, if a student really is being treated unfairly, the situation usually gets corrected. I've sat on such a committee. It usually went 40:60 student versus prof's stories. I've evaluated plenty of examples where students thought they were being treated unfairly, but actually they were not.

    The key in both situations is not to base it on "They don't like me", but "They said I'd be evaluated this way, and, here, take a look at this work for yourself and compare it to the rest of the class to see for yourself." The worst when sitting on that committee was hearing the student's story, then asking to see the work, and they've lost it or some other lame reason that may as well be equivalent to "the dog ate it". Well, I sympathize, but if it was that important and you were being shafted, you better keep that stuff or we can't help you.

    I've also helped a student at graduate level who really was being treated unfairly. As it started to turn sour I told them to meticiously document the time they spent on their work, perform outstandingly in all their course work, keep copies of their work, records of e-mail exchanges, everything. The idea was that if it did come to the point where they had to make a case to others, they could show to any impartial person what went wrong (and that it wasn't them). When the time came they found plenty of support from other faculty, because the evidence was kind of obvious.

    Profs can be unfair assholes, just like anyone else can, but on the whole most of them aren't. It's unpleasant and risky to deal with a situation like that as a student, because the prof is in a position of power. However, 9 times out of 10 the problem *is* with the student, and blaming the prof is just a convenient excuse. I know this, because I *strive* to be fair, yet I've heard all sorts of unjustified complaints. I don't mean the "prof is a hardass kind", but "prof said it would be X, but actually it was Y", even though I can go back to the syllabus and point at the part that does indeed say I'm expecting "X". Statistically, these aren't many cases anyway (most students are satisfied), but the ones that aren't, well, a lot of them are a bunch of whiners who want to blame everyone *else* for their problems. I've had people show up at my door at the end of term with a 49% saying "Oh, gee, Dr. X, can you please (arbitrarily) increase my mark by 1% so I can pass?" [Checks records. Student didn't do easy bonus point assignment X, Y, or Z, and lost 10% right there]. "Uh, no" == "Professor X is an unfair hardass" on Rate My Professor. Naturally, the the prof figures prominently when people get an F, not them, even if 90% of the class passed just fine. Go figure.

    For the other tenth, the legitimate complaints, students need to look out for themselves and realize that the other profs will support them if the evidence is clear enough. For graduate work, one of the reasons there's a committee rather than a single supervisor is to ensure that a student has someone knowledgeable to turn to if someone is being unreasonable. It can still go horribly wrong, and profs do have a lot of power, but there are checks-and-balances for a reason, and students need to avail themselves of those if they discover that their supervisor is an ass. It is going to be messy and it doesn't always turn out well, but I've seen enough examples to know that it often does turn out ok.

  • Re:Yeah! (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, 2012 @09:48PM (#42023409)

    The problem with that argument is... the right isn't actually homophobic, sexist, or racist. That's just left wing propaganda trying to secure the votes of those groups.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito