An administrator at the University of Massachusetts Amherst asked a student to remove a “F*** Nazis” sign from her dorm-room window on the grounds that it interfered with the “inclusive residential experience.”
According to BuzzFeed, a student named Nicole Parsons had hung the sign in early December after someone drew a swastika on a door. She said she thought that the university wasn’t doing enough about the incident, so she decided to deal with it herself.
A week later, she received an email from residence director Eddie Papazoni.
“Though the sign is permitted under Freedom of Speech, I would also like to discuss the impact on the community that the sign has had,” Papazoni wrote to her. “There are some in the community who have expressed that the sign should be taken down as it has created mixed emotions in the community on how to proceed, issues of inclusion, and the ability to be active members of their community.”
“While Residence Education cannot force you or your roommate to take the sign down, I am asking that you or your roommate take the sign down so that all students can be a part of an inclusive residential experience, as well as having a respectful environment to be a part of here on our campus,” Papazoni continued.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the university called his email “poorly worded.”
“A poorly worded email from Residence Life staff asking students to take down the sign does not reflect the values of the campus, and it should not have been sent,” the statement reads.
“UMass Amherst emphatically rejects Nazis, and any other hate group, a view expressed in the students’ sign. However, we are sensitive to the use of profanity, which some could find inappropriate,” it continues. “The university respects the students’ right to display the sign and it may remain up.”
The university is right — the email absolutely should never have been sent. With campus culture being what it is these days, however, I’m not entirely surprised that it was. I completely agree with Reason’s Robby Soave when he writes that the “incident highlights the coercive power of residence administrators, who are the campus busybodies most directly involved in students’ lives.”
Although the university at the very least always maintained the student’s right to leave the sign on her window if she wanted, that she was also asked to remove it is the perfect example of why I have always warned against the compulsion to make laws against “hate speech.” To many liberals, it seems as though such a ban would only result in the elimination of speech that they do not like, but that is simply not the case. It’s true: The same rules by which you seek to silence others might one day be used to silence you.