UI free speech policy disappoints
January 12, 2005
by Chad Kent
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Certainly our freedom of speech is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in this country. Unfortunately, the
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this move towards oppression is that our nation's universities are leading the way. At the
More recently, an internal memo Snow wrote raising legitimate questions of a conflict of interest in the hiring of a part-time professor resulted in Deming having his office relocated to former lab space in the basement that was crudely converted to an "office," getting kicked out of the geology department and being stripped of three out of his four classes.
All of that seems to be an odd way for a university that boasts a commitment to free speech to treat a tenured professor with a history of positive student reviews and an impressive portfolio of scholarly works that have been published.
Invitations to abuse
Luckily for Professor Deming he is being defended by one of the most important organizations in the country today: the Foundation for Individual Right in Education. FIRE is constantly on the lookout for any university that is restricting the First Amendment rights of its students and is extraordinarily successful in defending those whose rights are violated. As an organization dedicated solely to restoring liberty to college campuses, FIRE has defended the rights of College Republicans to hold "affirmative action" bake sales as well as those of anti-war activists to demonstrate on campus.
As shameful as the behavior of the
All of this made me wonder how well the universities here in
Despite Iowa State University's claim to be dedicated to free speech, students at that school can be charged with sexual harassment for "derogatory or demeaning comments about women or men in general, whether sexual or not." There can be no doubt that this exceedingly vague limitation placed on speech in
To be clear, there have yet to be any publicly reported incidents of the
However, the policies of both schools contain speech codes that significantly restrict a student's right to free speech. In light of the trend that has developed on college campuses, we must be vigilant as a community in ensuring that all students at
More and more, freedom of speech in the
An editorial in The Philadephia Inquirer put it best: "The only antidote for offensive speech is -- more and better speech."
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