The Corner

Education

Lawsuit Aims to End the Chilling of Free Speech at the University of Texas

Social-justice warrior types abound in college and university administrations. They’re especially drawn to jobs in Title IX and diversity offices where they are able to use their power to threaten students for saying un-PC things. The result is a cloud of vague rules causing students to keep quiet on any potentially controversial issue.

One school where that has happened is the University of Texas. In today’s Martin Center article, Nicole Neily, president of Speech First, discusses the lawsuit her group has brought against the university for its free speech-chilling regulations. She writes:

Thanks to four policies that the school maintains—a verbal harassment ban, an Acceptable Use Policy governing internet & digital use, a Residence Hall Manual, and a ‘Campus Climate Response Team’—the eyes of the University of Texas really are on students, keeping tabs on their speech all the time, everywhere.

The University of Texas is a public institution and therefore obliged to uphold the First Amendment. But the administrators care more about controlling speech in ways that supposedly benefit “marginalized” student groups than in preserving an environment in which everyone can speak without fear of reprisal.

Neily concludes:

Students at the University of Texas, including Speech First members, have been chilled and deterred from speaking openly about issues that are important to them—credibly fearing that their views may be considered ‘offensive,’ ‘biased,’ ‘uncivil,’ or ‘rude’ by other students, which could get them reported. The University is unlikely to voluntarily change these policies—which means the courts must now intervene.

UT is turning into“Animal Farm.” Let’s hope that this lawsuit helps to reverse the process.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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