The report details 35 incidents of universities punishing students or faculty for speech online, and 10 universities with policies in place that FIRE says give administrators “immense power to punish large swaths of speech.” According to the advocacy group, many public universities are acting like the First Amendment applies differently to online speech.
When students enter college, they will meet others from all walks of life with different opinions, experiences, and backgrounds. This can be a difficult environment to adapt to, so it is important to help students develop the ability to talk across their differences. This skill will help students become more inquisitive and confident in their own knowledge.
Offensive speech is nearly unavoidable in diverse environments such as college campuses. With the help of video from Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU, this module teaches students how to cope with and respond to offensive speech. Additionally, it teaches why the First Amendment protects “hate speech” and when offensive speech loses First Amendment protection.
Introduce students to the history of student protest on campus and how activists throughout history laid the groundwork for today’s robust protections for student speech. By highlighting the role of university students in the Civil Rights Movement and in fighting McCarthy era censorship, this module is meant to empower students to be active participants in their university community.
Teach incoming students about when speech crosses the line and loses First Amendment protection. This module focuses primarily on defining and providing examples of harassment, true threats, intimidation, and other unlawful conduct. With this knowledge, students can more accurately gauge when their speech, or their peers’ speech, may be impermissible or may result in violations of others’ rights.
When controversial speakers are brought to campus, students often have questions about why such speakers are allowed to have a platform and how to respond productively to speakers they disagree with. This module covers topics such as viewpoint neutrality in administrative decision-making, freedom of association for student groups, counter-protests, and other methods of dissent.
The principles behind academic freedom are important for students to understand in any college classroom. This module covers the importance of academic freedom in higher education, the rights of faculty, and how students can handle disagreements with their professors. The module also lays out the framework for a faculty-led panel on academic freedom.
The Ohio State Senate passed a new bill on campus speech on January 28th that will prohibit free speech zones, and ban the imposition of security fees based on the controversial nature of the speaker’s expression.