In our increasingly Orwellian world of higher education, there’s a new wrinkle — students being punished because they have posted pictures that our “progressive” thought minders dislike.
In today’s Martin Center article, Zach Greenberg of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education addresses this absurdity.
Greenberg cites plenty of cases:
For example, just this summer, FIRE criticized Fordham University for punishing a student over an Instagram photo memorializing the Tiananmen Square massacre which featured the student holding a firearm. For this display of political expression, Fordham found the student responsible for violating university policies on “threats/intimidation,” earning the student disciplinary probation and a ban from campus, campus athletics, and leadership roles in student organizations. Fordham also required the student to take bias training and write a letter of apology.
This is all too typical of our higher education “leaders” — instead of defending freedom, they act like apparatchiks in the Soviet Union, demanding that the offender grovel and submit to re-education.
Public institutions are subject to the constraints of the First Amendment and can’t legally restrict their students’ freedom of speech, but many of them ignore the law. They apparently are more concerned about upsetting the social-justice warriors on campus than about lawsuits they might face.
At the end of the day, it is universities, not their students, that have access to billion-dollar endowments, teams of lawyers to interpret the law, and hundreds of administrators to write and apply institutional policies. University leaders need to develop a greater understanding of the limits of their powers to punish students for their expression. We are happy to work with administrators to craft speech-protective policies toward this end.