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
On May 6th, Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a letter accepting the recommendations of Dean Rakesh Khurana to change the rules for “single-gender social organizations” with four main recommendations:
From 2017 on, any new student who joins a single-sex club “will not be eligible to hold leadership positions in recognized student organizations or athletic teams”;
New students who have been added to this blacklist won’t receive any of the letters of recommendation required for special academic opportunities;
The rules for this Orwellian exclusionary scheme will be curated by a collection of the ideologically compliant (the most unimaginative and instinctively totalitarian people Harvard can find: college administrators and gender studies majors); and,
Harvard will help those menacingly single-sexed organizations, all of them private, and all off-campus, to assimilate properly.
The well-initiated will recognize a familiar and menacing lunacy, the instinctual gut reaction of the intellectually indolent left to all dissenting views. They ostracize, drown out opposing voices, and punish thought.
It would be easy to relish in the spectacle of Harvard’s president brokering a Faustian deal with her Dean, not in a sacrifice for knowledge, but instead for single-minded enforcement against students who’ve evaded Ivy groupthink. Harvard’s student newspaper, the Crimson, however, will be exempted from this ideological banishment. Even career academics recognize the poor optics of restricting the freedom of association of journalists.
It isn’t as if this is purely a left-right dispute. One of the slates running for election to the Harvard Board of Overseers includes Ralph Nader. The stance Nader & Co. have taken towards Faust’s political witch hunt is unequivocal: “We are appalled and dismayed by the Harvard University administration’s attack on the freedom of association of members of all-male and all-female off-campus clubs, fraternities, and sororities.” Ralph Nader is known primarily for his support of left-liberal, mildly anti-capitalist economic positions, and for his left-of-liberal third party campaigns for the presidency. It’s no longer simply right-wing, pro-gun, laissez faire, anti-abortion nutjobs, as those in the university like to put it, who are assailing these ill-advised policies.
Continue reading at The Daily Caller.