A freedom of speech on campus essay is a great chance for every student to investigate the topic and form a personal position on it. Although the very first impulse of a student living in a democratic society is to oppose any restriction of free speech, the issue is more complex than it seems.
Let us first consider controversies and misconceptions about free speech and its regulation on campus:
Examples of free speech on campus are a demonstration of political support and patriotism, discussion of controversial topics, participation in protests, etc. However, there is another set of examples, too. It includes giving inappropriate comments, displaying posters or pictures, which may be offensive to certain minorities, creating posts and webpages that condemn or humiliate professors, etc.
The fact that these are the establishments that wish to limit the student’s free speech is not always true. The current trend is that students not only support but also demand from their establishments the regulation of free speech. The universities have become much more diverse and (an important factor) much more expensive. Therefore, students who feel offended or humiliated by anything on campus are often eager to bring the fact to the authority or even to the court.
Not all students are aware of the fact that the First Amendment applies only to public institutions. Thus, private universities have the right to establish their own rules and policies concerning free speech on campus.
Here are some great sources, which can help you form and advocate your opinion in freedom of speech on campus essay.
The article gives several examples of universities’ attacks on free speech:
(These examples are useful to argue against free speech restrictions)
The author also cites the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a group promoting free speech at colleges and universities, indicating that 58% out of 427 major colleges and universities have restrictive speech codes even though these policies suffered the “virtually unbroken string of legal defeats” since 1989. The organization suggests universities return to the same policies even after the courts make them abolish them because they “are scared of people who demand censorship – they’re afraid of lawsuits and PR problems. … they are more worried about that than about ignoring their 1st Amendment responsibilities”.
how to cite
In-text: … (Watanabee, 2014). Watanabee (2014) gives examples ….
Watanabee, T. (2014) Students challenge free-speech rules on college campuses. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from a web address.
In text: … (Watanabee). Watanabee gives examples ….
Watanabee, Teresa. “Students Challenge Free-Speech Rules on College Campuses”. Los Angeles Times, 1 Jul 2014, web address.
The article by First Amendment Center scholar starts with a great citation revealing the reason why the free speech regulation issue is so complex:
“It is an unfortunate fact of our constitutional system that the ideals of freedom and equality are often in conflict” Judge Avern Cohn, in Doe v. University of Michigan, 1989
The source nicely presents the arguments behind speech regulations, in particular, “critical race” theory, the proponents of which believe that “hate speech subjugates minority voices and prevents them from exercising their own First Amendment rights”.
The author explains the reason for the legal failure of restrictive codes – they are considered vague and overbroad even if they give actual examples of what will be considered a violation of the code, as it is impossible to account for all possible situations.
Several examples are given. The first discusses theUniversity of Michigan, which developed a policy that prohibited:
“Any behavior, verbal or physical, that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, creed … and that … Creates an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for educational pursuits, employment or participation in University[-]sponsored extra-curricular activities.”
A guide was also written to explain the speech code to provide examples of harassing conduct. It specified such cases:
Eventually, the code was challenged by one of the students at the court and was prohibited as overbroad.
Wisconsin speech-code case and Cross-burning case also exemplify good intentions of the universities fighting for diversity and respect to the race and gender, which nevertheless, lost the cases at the court.
Reading this article, one can think that speech regulations are always against the law, but it is possible to agree to many of the demands related to race and gender. Therefore, it may be the law, not codes, that has to be changed.
how to cite
In-text: … (Hudson, 2002). Hudson (2002) shows the controversy …
Hudson, D.L. (2002). Hate speech and campus speech codes. Retrieved from a web address.
In text: … (Hudson). Hudson (2002) shows the controversy …
Hudson, David L. “Hate Speech and Campus Speech Codes”, 13 Sep. 2002, web address.
The Sanneh’s article is very interesting to read. It again shows the controversy in today’s society where everyone wants simultaneously to be protected against infringement of free speech and against harassment, which is the result of someone’s free speech.
The author does not support any side, rather criticizes both:
The real problem the author points to is not the restriction of free speech or harassment due to lack of its regulation, but the hypersensitivity and politicization of the nation.
The examples given are:
An important fact that the author mentions is that despite its course for equality and protection of the dignity of the minorities, the U.S. is one of few countries that “refuse to honor a United Nations convention calling for laws against dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred’”
how to cite
In text: … (Sanneh, 2015). Sanneh (2015) criticizes …
Sanneh K. (2015). The hell you say: The new battles over free speech are fierce, but who is censoring whom? The New Yorker. Retrieved from a web address.
In text: … (Sanneh). Sanneh criticizes …
Sanneh K. “The Hell You Say: The New Battles over Free Speech are Fierce, but Who is Censoring Whom?” The New Yorker, 10 Aug. 2015, web address.
This is a great article to read on the topic and use when arguing against the restriction of free speech.
The author considers the regulation of free speech the demand of the students, which is as a growing trend in the American and British campuses. He argues the universities should not develop new and new policies just to please their students and create a safe place they demand.
The author names a direct reason for the change in student’s views: with the introduction of market principles, students have started to see themselves as customers and thus “have grown more ready to assert their rights and voice their dissatisfactions”. (the very idea may be used as the argument for the regulation of free speech)
The examples given are:
The author gives actual examples of speakers that were banned or disinvited. It was not to stop harassment or protect minorities’ rights but to create a safe place where no issues are raised at all. For example,
The great advantage of the article is that it provides many effective professors’ citations, which help argue against restrictions. Here are some of them:
Instead of intellectual robustness to challenge and debate views, academics are teaching that words can inflict violence and oppression and should be censored.
Education is not meant to be comfortable. Education should be about confronting ideas you find really objectionable.
I think I would have resisted the notion that ideas put over in a free debate were ‘threatening’. I remember feeling challenged, cross, outraged, provoked, inspired, but threatened, no.
how to cite:
In-text: … (Antony, 2016). Antony (2016) cites …
Antony, A. (2016). Is free speech in British universities under threat? The Guardian. Retrieved from a web address.
In-text: … (Antony). Antony cites …
Antony, Andrew. “Is Free Speech in British Universities under Threat?” The Guardian, 24 Jan. 2016, web address.
Read comprehensible Tips that will help you write your freedom of speech essay.