Talking to College Administrators About the 1st Amendment

In my first blog post, I outlined the problems and instances of suppression of speech on college campuses. Specifically, I wrote about the misconceptions of our 1st Amendment Rights as citizens of the United States of America and what speech is punishable by law. I also wrote about the Evergreen State College student who tormented Bret Weinstein for opting out of a day without white people on campus.

The New York Times and the Washington Post have similar ideas in their recent articles. The Washington Post article suggests that young people support free speech seemingly contrary to the story at Evergreen, but Evergreen can be used as a measure of the extreme, not the norm. The New York Times article cites a Gallup study for its evidence.  There were several polls that stated/confirmed what we already knew, and some that went against our previous knowledge from the first blog post. First off, college students think that political conservatives are the least able group to openly express their views (69%), the next least able group is Muslims (80%). We already knew that many conservatives are less able to share their views. 10% of students say violence is acceptable to stop people from hearing controversial speakers. Some new information I have gathered is based on who feels “uncomfortable” on campus because they heard something about their race or ethnicity. Black and Jewish students are most likely to feel that way (43% Black) and (38% Jewish).

Since the first blog post I have gathered new research on my own about free speech on college campuses. I had the pleasure of interviewing two advisors at Temple University, Seth Finck and Bradley Pearson. They both clarified their centrist political positions early on in the interview which aligned well with my own beliefs, which I believe was productive for the conversation. Bradley answered my question “What are your thoughts on students right to speech and what should be done on campus?” in an incredible, enlightening way. He said that: “I’ll say that, you know, from my own experience, as well as my own research on it, it is difficult to really have one, university-wide, clear cut policy on what constitutes free speech and what doesn’t.” He then went on to explain and go deep into the “cost of free speech”, which he calls a cliché, but nevertheless, is a real thing. He explains that the security cost of some of the events that are held on campus are astronomically high and are not financially beneficial for the college. I did not mention this perspective in my first post, so I am glad to have captured and recognized this new perspective. The interview added a new viewpoint from which I can look at this topic: the angle of the administrator.

For my Agent of Change, I am thinking about sending out flyers to SLA students, who will one day be college students, about their rights as students now and their rights as adults. I am also thinking about creating a quiz that students will take and will show their 1st Amendment Rights.

Annotated Bibliography

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