You have probably heard about the politically-correct craziness happening on college campuses, but you may not be as familiar with the policies that enable it. That's probably because the majority of public universities possess overly-restrictive and unconstitutional speech policies. These policies prevent open debate and criticism of legitimate issues, issues such as authoritarian campus speech policies.
Fortunately, Young Americans for Liberty launched a national movement against restrictive campus speech codes.
On Tuesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., signed into law monumental free speech legislation. Colorado Senate Bill 62 prohibits the state's public universities from restricting their students' free speech rights to tiny areas of campus known as "free speech zones." The success of this reform is in part thanks to Young Americans for Liberty members pushing for speech code reform at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
The university's biased administration of speech policies sparked a debate that has since garnered almost unanimous bipartisan support. And that shouldn't be difficult, considering these designated speech spheres often discourage open dialogue by virtue of their absurdly small scope.
To put it in perspective, campus speech zones have been found to make up less than 1 percent of the public campuses in which they reside.
At least that's the case at Pierce College in Los Angeles, a campus that has recently come under fire for their restrictive speech policies. As outlined by Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, during his testimony to Congress last week, Pierce College's free speech zone is comparatively the size of an iPhone within the lines of an entire tennis court.
Essentially, free speech doesn't exist at Pierce College. That's why the Young Americans for Liberty leader on campus took action against their college with the help of FIRE.
Pierce College YAL Chapter President Kevin Shaw met all the requirements for a new student organization: signatures, a faculty adviser and more. However, the YAL chapter was still denied recognition as an official student organization. And when Shaw was petitioning outside of his campus' designated free speech zone, an administrator shut him down.
The worst part? Pierce College administrators didn't shut down an anti-President Trump rally that violated the same speech codes two weeks later.
College campuses are inundated with the type of authoritarian speech policies that are found at Pierce College in Los Angeles and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. That's why YAL launched the national Fight for Free Speech campaign: to not only abolish unconstitutional campus speech policies, but to educate on the importance of what it means to have the right to free speech.
There is a notion among the campus Left that they can suppress the speech of their adversaries instead of confronting real issues through an open debate. In contrast to the liberal free speech crusaders of the 1960s, progressives today call for greater speech restrictions on their own campuses. These speech suppressors are therefore responsible for the campus craziness taking place.
Let me break it down for you: a student first has to gain permission from a college bureaucratic to exercise their First Amendment right. They are then restricted to a confined, designated "free speech zone" on their public university campus, and are told to adhere to often vague speech guidelines within that zone. If a student breaks these Orwellian policies, they will face disciplinary action. These policies typically only apply to those who possess unfavorable ideologies.
Now tell me, what about that scenario encourages civic participation? What about that political climate encourages students with differing opinions to speak up? What about that bureaucratic process is aligned with the mission of a public university?
The answer is nothing. Unless something changes, that's exactly what a generation of Americans will take away from an overpriced college education: nothing.
Stand up for free speech even when you disagree with the speech. That's what makes it free.
Cliff Maloney Jr. is president of Young Americans for Liberty. He served as national youth director for Rand Paul's 2016 Presidential Campaign Committee.
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