College free speech roundup: U. of Virginia students say sign rules restrict free speech

The editorial board of The Cavalier Daily, September 29, 2021, argues that the new University of Virginia rule limiting the size of signs on dorm doors runs afoul of student rights of free expression. The rule was adopted this year after room signs last year criticized the University’s history of slavery and exclusivity. The editorial argues that the size restrictions to a standard sheet of 8 by 11 inch paper was too small to be noticed.

A group of students and staff at Colorado State University is asking the administration for action on hate speech, specifically for a task force to determine which campus incidents are free speech or protected hate speech and which are discriminatory harassment. (Coloradoan, September 28, 2021, by Molly Bohannon)

The conservative Koch network announced they opposed government bans on teaching about race and history in schools, otherwise known as critical race theory bans. At the same time the billionaire Kochs bankrolled groups working to ban critical race theory. (Local10, September 29, 2021, by Thomas Beaumont of The Associated Press)

Citing harassment to speakers at Cornell, Javed Jokhai, The Cornell Daily Sun, September 27, 2021, argues that when speakers attempt to address Palestinian human rights issues, too many seek the refuge of discussion of the complexities of the Middle East, never dealing with the core realities of the injustices faced by the Palestinians.

The Institute of Politics at Florida State University is working with the state legislature to measure tolerance for political speech on Florida’s 12 public university campuses. (Tallahassee Democrat, September 24, 2021, by James Call of USA TODAY)

Student Carl Cederborg, The Falcon, September 23, 2021, laments the state of free speech at Seattle Pacific University citing the firing of employees for their opinions and the reluctance students have for expressing opinions for fear of causing offense and suffering ostracism. “The way forward,” writes Cederborg, “the way to revitalize the culture of free speech on campus, comes from some element of grace and courage on both sides of the equation; grace in the presumption of good will extended both ways, courage in speaking up for yourself and for opposing viewpoints, and courage that hearing another point of view will not harm you unless you let it.”

A federal judge ruled that Virginia Tech’s policy to protect students from harassment was too vague and broad. District Judge Michael Urbanski wrote that “the text of the policy, which is undoubtedly broad, arguably could proscribe the conduct in which students intend to engage, which is protected free speech.” The judge allowed other policies challenged by a conservative group that concerned bias-related incidents and discriminatory harassment. (The Roanoke Times, September 24, 2021, by Laurence Hammack)

Republicans at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse contend that their free speech rights were violated when other students and allegedly the school staff erased their chalk art protesting mask policy. Chalking is a traditional way students advertise events and make political statements. (News8000.com, September 23, 2021, by Emily Haugen)

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