Colleges Balancing Freedom of Speech and Protection of Student Safety

20160512_GCC Graduation” by Germanna CC licensed under CC BY 2.0

Source: New York Times

In the last two years, higher education institutions have been battling with outbreaks of violence and polarizing opinions leading to debates on freedom of speech on campus.

As the nation became more evidently and publicly polarized on political “hot” topics, universities faced challenges in deciding how to deal with situations where freedom of speech leads to violent outbreaks and protests. The decision of how to protect students and calm them in situations where hateful speech was present was not easy.

Experts have determined that one of the biggest problems is surrounding the fact that many students don’t understand that the First Amendment protects and guarantees freedom of speech by government entities, not private ones.

“ So private universities, unlike public universities — which are considered state agents — are free to punish students for speech without violating the First Amendment,” reports the New York Times.

One of the biggest goals campus leaders across the U.S. have, is to teach students tolerance and the strength that comes with being able to hear opinions that are drastically different from their own.

Former chief strategist and senior adviser for President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, says that a major problem today is that “students now often come to college having rarely — or never — interacted with someone with a different opinion or lifestyle.”

Surveys on college students have shown that a large percentage of students believe promoting an inclusive society is more important than protecting freedom of speech, and students have also largely responded that the Constitution should not protect hate speech.

Read Full Story: New York Times

Education, News
Education, News