College Bias Response Teams Chill Free Speech

, Spencer Irvine, 1 Comment

Our friend George Leef discussed how many people heard of disruptive protests at Middlebury College, but not about campus bias response teams suppressing free speech in the name of tolerance and avoiding offending college students:

What seldom makes news, however, is another aspect of the suppression of speech—bias response teams (BRTs). Quite a number of colleges and universities have established them, at least 232 according to a new report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and that number is believed to be rapidly growing.

When a college or university sets up a BRT, it establishes a formal process for soliciting reports from students, faculty, or staff about allegedly offensive speech or conduct. The team responds to complaints. That’s where the trouble begins, because the complaints usually involve speech that is protected under the First Amendment.

Colleges have always had procedures for students to report acts of violence or intimidation, as they should. Schools have a responsibility to shield their students against physical abuse and harassment, but bias response teams seldom do that; more often, they are turned into swords used against students or faculty members who have said something that happens to offend a student.