All posts by Natalie Le

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Harvard is No Friend of Free Speech

Students’ free speech rights are constantly suppressed across American college campuses. Recently, a student sued Los Angeles Pierce College after he was prohibited from passing out pocket constitutions outside the college’s “free speech zone”, which confines speech activities to a small outdoor area.

Harvard is no exception; it has speech codes that clearly infringe upon students’ First Amendment rights. One example is Harvard’s racial harassment policy, which bars students from “using racial epithets, making racially derogatory remarks, and using racial stereotypes.” The wording used in this speech code is far too vague and therefore threatensstudents’ free speech rights.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Harvard is a private institution and is not legally bound by the First Amendment. However, Harvard is considered to be an institution that encourages America’s best and brightest to pursue truth. In order to do so effectively, Harvard must foster diversity in intellectual thought and therefore respect students’ right to free speech, regardless of how different and controversial it may be.

However, Harvard was given a “red light” categorization by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for having at least one policy that obstructs freedom of speech. FIRE is a non-profit organization that “defends and sustains individual rights at America’s colleges and universities.” Harvard’s “red light” policy defines racial harassment “as actions on the part of an individual or group that demean or abuse another individual or group because of racial or ethnic background. Such actions may include, but are not restricted to, using racial epithets, making racially derogatory remarks, and using racial stereotypes.” We must keep in mind that what is offensive to one person may not be offensive to another.

Continue reading at The Crimson

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Urging Trump to push comprehensive immigration reform

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump successfully tapped into voters’ frustration about the country’s broken immigration system. While it is still unclear how the president-elect will resolve the issue, immigration opponents are pressing him to consider repealing the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that enables many migrants to become productive economic players. Giving into these pleas to use executive fiat will further marginalize the important role of the legislative branch. Instead, Trump should utilize his deal-making skills to work with Congress on a more comprehensive immigration reform.

Enacted in 2012, DACA permits children of undocumented parents to work and study in the U.S. on a temporary basis. DACA also stayed the deportation of those who benefit from the DREAM Act, a law providing conditional residency for immigrants with no felony convictions or significant misdemeanors who are enrolled in school, graduated from high school, or are enlisted in the military.

With Trump’s election, DREAMers are afraid that the policy that offered them the opportunity to achieve their dreams in their new homeland could soon be overturned. Take the case of Diana Chacon, a DACA recipient originally from Lima, Peru, who is studying in college with hopes of attending law school. “DACA changed my life,” Chacon recalls. “It allowed me to be involved in school more, spend more time doing my class work assignments, spend more time applying for programs, and just get involved in my community in general.”

Continue reading at The Greenville News.

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College of Charleston President Won’t Tolerate “Hate Speech”

Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation, leading to classes being called off, students walking out of their classes in protest and colleges creating more safe spaces. Fortunately, College of Charleston did not follow the trend of coddling students or intolerance towards differing views. Despite having earned FIRE‘s “red light,” which means the school has at least one policy that is not in line with the First Amendment, the College maintained itself as a place of higher learning, where students freely exchange their ideas regardless of how controversial they may be.

No incidents of suppressed speech took place on campus until November 15th, when Glenn F. McConnell, the President of the College, emailed students and faculty members reminding them that in the aftermath of the elections, “it is our duty as Americans and members of the College of Charleston to treat each other with kindness and empathy. No matter the political divide, we must always be tolerant of each other’s views.” However, he added, “Hateful speech and actions will not be tolerated at the College.” The issue here is how vague the term “hateful speech” is, since it holds a subjective meaning. Further, much of what people consider “hateful speech” is generally protected.

Continue reading at Students for Liberty.