Thursday, May 25, 2006

Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free Than It Used To Be?

The following article, by Jennifer Van Bergen, can be read in its entirety at FindLaw. The piece discusses UM, but also many other campuses.

Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing - as some recent, troubling incidents suggest.

In this column, I'll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech

Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech

Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face the threat of disciplinary charges.

These students received "administrative subpoenas" to appear before a school official, and were told they faced possible major disciplinary action on grounds of "disorderly conduct" and failure to comply with a school order. But instead of charging the students, the official asked them to look at pictures and identify others who participated in the strike activities.

Attorneys for the students allege that the school is trying to intimidate the students and is infringing on their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Some compared the university's actions to those used by Senator McCarthy, who brought citizens before Congress to testify against their alleged communist associates. [cont'd]

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