24
May
10

American Universities are unAmerican


Free Speech except at Universities

I have heard from students at different universities that their free speech and expression is limited by faculty who can or will give them poor grades for views that are not analogous to faculty points of view.  Though I support free speech, I usually tell students to avoid talking about political, religious or other controversial issues with faculty, as I know from firsthand experience that those who are against you will “d” grade you whenever they can.   I’ve been told by many that they have to agree with faculty in their writing and that they cannot argue against faculty philosophical ideas in order to maintain their GPA.   This infuriates many.  Have you had this experience?  In academia, faculty should be able to discuss about viewpoints or ideas that are not popular or are politically incorrect.  Faculty just shouldn’t be docking students for their viewpoint, offensive or contrary as they may be.  I’m not sure what one can do about being docked either, unless they can present their case effectively to their college Dean or chair.

 Another issue of freedom of speech is the types of subjects and ideas studied in the classroom.  Faculty should be able to present works from controversial people that are not popular, but stimulate thought and feeling alike.   Being that we are in academia, we should also be able to entertain in our studies content that is problematic, offensive, racists, sexists or worse.  But, it appears that on many campuses that some students actually support abuses of the first amendment.  If one does not agree with the guy preaching , or the woman who is a vegan, or the person who shares alternative political views,  that does not mean we have the right to stop them from free expression.  

Faculty members too have a similar issue when their expression in the classroom that can be jeopardized by administrative policies.  Faculty should be able to state what their opinions are without being afraid of being fired.    Another place where first amendment rights are in jeopardy is with the faculty being able to say what they want without having their administration punitively? For more on academic freedom for faculty.

 The reason these issues are important is that once you lose your right to free speech, you start living in a totalitarian state.  There are extremes such as harassment and vulgarity that may be agreed upon, but denying someone the ability to express themselves in academia is just wrong.  We should have the most open discussion of topics.  All points of view should have their place.  Everyone should be free to think as they wish and to express their thoughts.  Somewhere there is a line which is crossed into the realm of hatred, violence, and other negative expressions that are harmful to others – that is called a hate crime.  We have laws for battery as well.  Pornography is kept from children.  Here in the world of knowledge and ideals, we should be able to discuss those issues and to express our opinions and to change our minds as we are adults.  We shouldn’t be run out on a rail because we disagree with you.

Further reading:

Fire is an organization that zealously support free.  Their third annual report on campus speech codes… “The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses” found that American colleges and universities continue to systematically violate students’ and faculty members’ right to freedom of expression. About 75 percent of colleges surveyed continue to support policies that restrict speech protected by the First Amendment.  They post the following link that presents a letter to a college about free speech problems:

In the Higher Ed web site, stated that  nearly 70% of campuses are in violation of the federal bill of rights.

Another Article titled Colleges provide chilly climate for free speech since attacks.

From the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: Debate Ove Freedom of Speech on college Campuses

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