Free Speech Still Not Free on College Campuses
Religion & Liberty Online

Free Speech Still Not Free on College Campuses

Even though the crowds stop paying attention, most fads never completely disappear. Just like Beanie Babies, Furbies, grunge music never really went away, some other 1990s fads—like campus speech codes and absurd political correctness—still haunt us:

From free speech codes and zones that quarantine unpopular speech to freshman orientation programs that force a left-wing world view on impressionable students to outright censorship and threats by Administrators to expel students and fire professors, Lukianoff’s new book, Unlearning Liberty, details dozens of blatant violations of the First Amendment and due process.

For instance, the University of Cincinnati attempted to corral Young Americans for Liberty to a free speech zone totaling an area less than 0.1% of the university’s 137-acre campus. With the help of FIRE and Ohio’s 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, students sued the university, and a federal judge overturned UC’s blatant violation of the First Amendment.

But not all violations make it to court. Lukianoff explains that FIRE often uses the court of public opinion to put pressure on universities to change policies before pursuing legal action.

Keith John Sampson, a nontraditional student who worked as a janitor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, was brought up on charges of “racial harassment” for reading a book titledNotre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. The book jacket depicts Klansmen burning crosses against a backdrop of Notre Dame’s campus.

The book details a 1924 confrontation between students and Klansmen in which the students prevailed. IUPUI administrators judged the book by its cover, and Sampson with it. Only after receiving public pressure from FIRE, media outlets, and bloggers did the university reverse its decision and publicly apologize.

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Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).