Report: 9 of 10 American colleges restrict First Amendment rights on campus

by WorldTribune Staff, December 14, 2018

Most students at America’s top colleges and universities “surrender their free speech rights the moment they step onto campus,” according to a report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

“Just over 90 percent of public colleges maintain policies that don’t live up to their free speech obligations under the First Amendment,” FIRE found. “Private institutions are generally not bound by the First Amendment but are responsible for living up to their institutional commitments to free speech. More than 88 percent of private institutions fall short of those promises.”

The restrictions, the report said, include speech codes, free speech zones and the denial of normal due process rights.

As J. Edgar Hoover once wrote, in the ’60s, the University of California at Berkeley was dubbed protest central – “the place where ‘agitators’ go to learn how best to agitate.”

“My, how the pendulum has swung far from the 1960s,” columnist Cheryl K. Chumley noted in a Dec. 13 op-ed for The Washington Times.

Now?

“Settlement with conservative groups helps assure free speech on UC Berkeley campus,”read one San Francisco Chronicle headline this week, after Berkeley College Republicans won their two-year legal struggle against the school for halting three of the group’s planned speakers – Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz and Ann Coulter – from speaking, and trying to halt a fourth, Ben Shapiro, Chumley noted.

“It’s like the agitators of 1960 have grown into the censors of 2018.”

And, Chumley pointed out, it is “not just Berkeley students who are suffering from this dangerous political correctness-slash-clamps on conservative thought.”

  • Barnard College in New York has a strict harassment policy that could see students severely punished for engaging in perceived offensive speech both “on or off campus.”
  • Boston College has a policy that punishes those who view material on campus computers that “may be considered objectionable by some.”
  • California State University at Fresno mandates “no email or message shall be created or sent, nor Web pages created, that may constitute intimidating, hostile, or offensive material based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or disability.”

“In many cases, a finger-point is all it takes,” Chumley wrote. “From there, nail-biting administrators, worried about lawsuits, concerned about the potential for controversy – particularly when the controversy involves conservatism – rush to clamp, regulate, stifle and yes, censor.”

Chumley continued: “Call it the censorship of the American mind; it sets the stage for the next generation to enter adulthood as docile, unquestioning sheep. America’s places of higher learning are supposed to provide atmospheres of free thought, free inquiry, free expression – all aimed at stretching and developing the youthful mind. Chilling speech is not what parents pay for; censoring talk is not part and parcel of the proper college experience.”


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