Free Speech is More Threatened Than Ever

, Spencer Irvine, 2 Comments

From the James G. Martin Center:

An immediate question is more pressing: what to do about this unacceptable state of affairs? Three things are necessary if higher education is to restore its moral charter in deed, not just words.

First, higher education must understand what is at stake and the necessity of upholding its duty to protect and nourish the life of the mind. This is an intellectual problem.

Second, it must have clear rules in place that protect speakers that properly delineate the difference between rightful protest and prohibited disruption. Preventing a speaker from speaking in the forum assigned and from being able to speak in a continuous manner crosses a line. Some schools are already working on such policies, including my school, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But none of this will matter unless the third necessity becomes a reality: sanctions for disrupters that have sufficient teeth. Disruptions of speakers strike at the very heart of the idea of an open university. Suspension from the school—the second strongest campus-based penalties—is not out of line given the problem today. And in cases of repeated offense, outright expulsion would be merited.