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It’s Time for Congress to Defend Free Speech on Campus

congress defend free speech campusAs an undergraduate student during the ‘60s, the Vietnam War was often on our minds and in our conversations.

I vividly remember the discussions. Students were debating professors and each another. Ideas were being exchanged, opinions formed, and unique perspectives shared.

I saw firsthand how college campuses across the nation were hubs of free speech—and some of that speech I vehemently disagreed with, in all honesty. Yet as a soldier years later, I would fight to protect and defend this right to free speech. As a country, we were best served by allowing all sides to passionately argue their views.

In the decades since, our colleges’ commitment to protecting free speech has eroded. Examples have piled up of students silencing and attacking speakers with whom they disagree, as well as students being arrested for violating their college’s policies on “free speech zones.”

Time and again, university leaders stand by and just allow this to happen.

The designation of a “free speech zone” is a particularly egregious example of how colleges limit free speech. These small parcels of land—often just a tiny fraction of the campus—are the only places students can freely engage in expressive activity, such as distributing fliers or holding a rally or protest. Students caught engaging in these activities outside the free speech zone can be subject to arrest, harassment, and discipline.

Roughly 10 percent of American colleges now restrict constitutionally protected speech to a particular corner of campus, according to a recent report, and 30 percent of colleges have restrictive speech codes. These regulations prohibit the kind of student expression that is typically protected by the First Amendment.

And disturbingly, students increasingly approve of these policies. A national study last year found that about one-third of students supported restricting free speech on their own college campus.

President Donald Trump has shown a strong commitment to protecting the free speech rights of college students. He recently announced an executive order that will require colleges to honor free speech on their campuses in order to remain eligible for up to $26 billion of federal research funding.

The president’s proposal sheds critical light on this issue. We should continue to send a strong message to institutions of higher education that free speech restrictions are at odds with our constitutional rights.

Congress likewise cannot sit idly by while college campuses restrict free speech. For this reason, I have introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives supporting the right to free speech, and admonishing institutions that aim to limit this right. It also calls on universities to abolish their free speech zones and recommit themselves to protecting the free and open exchange of ideas.

My resolution affirms the House of Representatives’ commitment to being a guardian of free speech in America, including on college and university campuses. This isn’t about protecting conservative or liberal viewpoints. It’s about encouraging conservative and liberal viewpoints, and all viewpoints in between.

Twenty-one colleagues of mine in the House have co-sponsored this resolution, and I will continue to work on growing that number.

Fostering intellectual curiosity, robust debate, and passionate discussion on college campuses is vital for our nation’s strength and future. Passing this resolution will send a message to colleges and students throughout the country that the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are alive and well in the 21st century.

Reprinted with permission from - The Daily Signal - by Rep. Phil Roe (TN-01)

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Morbious

Hmmm… it seems that the millenial generation, raised without moral absolutes that previously took the form of specific religious beliefs, now seeks, even demands a new set of unquestioned truths with which to order their lives around. We wonder why the kids are so adamant about climate change and men using womens bathrooms, for instance. Folks, much of this comes from thinking kids are avatars; artesion fonts of pure wisdom. Theyre not. Theyre just kids without much life experience. The ww2 people washed dishes or otherwise worked their way thru college. We worked construction jobs in the summer and part time gigs during the school year. These kids had a car given to them at sixteen along with a daily stipend for chipotle. They slept in on sundays and were allowed to decide what they would believe, because we wanted to be their friends, not Old Testament authority figures. So,… Read more »

Wayne

Either free speech or loose the funding, simple as that.

Press ONE for English

Here’s the question no one is asking our friends on the left: “What are you afraid of?” Clearly they are terrified of something. Could it be that a free and open conversation might scratch the scab off their own wound of doubt about what they are professing to be true? And don’t give me the BS about “settled science” or decided issues. Pretty much all concepts are open to legitimate challenge as our knowledge base continues to grow. As the writer points out, institutions of higher learning (and NOT indoctrination) are ground zero for these conversations. Any attempt to change this or to quash debate are extremely dangerous.

Stephen Russell

Or Lose federal funding alone, Do this or lose out.

JOE & CRYSTAL SIRACUSA

We can begin , by home schooling our children Be better selective ,as to which college they go to. Don’t forget we pay the bills,and can walk away from anything evil. “PEOPLE ARE BOSS.” It’s called we the people.

Drue

FREE SPEECH- I may not agree with what you say, but I will vehemently defend your right to say it. That is what free speech means to me. As a citizen and veteran of our great country, we must all agree to let others say what is one their mind without fear of violence. There is no more important right than the 1st Amendment. The free exchange of ideas is what our country is about.

Barbara

I think all who try and restrict free speech on college campus and everywhere need to go to communist countries for a few months and try it there. They will be put under the jail and never see the light of day.

Kim

It’s about time! Hats of to Rep. Roe and others for this bill that a few of us here at AMAC have thought was long overdue. If you’re a school (public schools, colleges and universities) official who suppresses the exchange of legitimate ideas, regardless of the side of the fence from which they originated, then prepare to lose federal funding. The same should go for sanctuary cities and states. I look forward to hearing about court challenges to this bill, which surely will side with the Constitution if they ever get to the Supreme Court.
And if activities are limited to “free speech zones”—that’s just not good enough. “You can have your rally here, but not 2′ from here.” Where, in America, does the Constitution NOT have authority?

BajaRon

The left cannot prevail in an open and free society. Free speech is only 1 intended casualty of the left. To flourish, the left must control not only the rhetoric, but the actions as well. As we can see from the halls of Washington to the neighborhood street, no act is too crass, offensive or despicable, no lie or hoax too outrageous, no amount of hatred too evil, as long as it promotes the agenda.

Victoria

If you can control speech, you can control the agenda. If there is no discussion there will be no push back to strong opinions backed by those who would alter the constitution and suppress the Republic. If free speech is allowed to die in our public space and halls of congress two hundred years of ‘the successful experiment’ will die with it. Our leaders in this effort have become weak and feckless cowards and some even consort with the enemy. Oh Lancelot, where are you?.

Garland

Don’t expect our Congress or Senate to do anything. They are to busy filling their pockets. Maybe we should pay them for only the days they accomplish something. Wouldn’t be much pay since the last election.

Betty Hicks

We have lost so many rights in this country. we cannot say what we think . We cannot run our businesses without so many regulations that it hampers our freedoms of Choices. Our Tax laws hold us back also. we need a value added tax so we are free again to live as we wish. Our states collect sales tax on everything so their system is in place to collect it. We will have freedom to buy what we want. i think one exception to this would be no tax on groceries.

Penny

Public schools have stopped teaching American History along with cursive writing. Most of today’s young adults have little or no knowledge of what has gone before to make America great, who the heroes were, what the issues were, and why we exist as we do. In addition they have been catered to, adored by their family, given everything they wanted and told they are winners at everything they do. We have done them no favors and we, their elders, have lost sight of the fact that they are our future leaders and will decide “what nursing home we will go to”. Why should we be surprised that they are so easily influenced and trained to reject all that stands for American citizenship. They have no idea how hard-won it has been. We must do what is hard and turn this around before it is too late to save the America… Read more »

Larry Palmitier

Wait until these people that are trying to eliminate Free Speech get it accomplished and then see what happens to them. Once you loose it, it is very hard to get it back. This is socialism, which leads to communism, and the leftist or democrat party is in favor of taking the First Amendment out of the Constitution. In fact O’Rourke who ran for the Senate in Texas against Cruz said the Constitution is outdated and needs to be replaced. With what? A socialist agenda that will lead to communism, no thank you. I am glad he lost the race. I remember, growing up in grade school, we had to stand and put our hand over our heart and recite the “Pledge of Allegiance ” to the flag of the United States of America. I thought this was gone forever but when I went to my grandsons High School Graduation… Read more »

drcarol6

The kids growing up today are bombarded with propaganda about “hate speech.” We can hardly blame them when it is pushed into their brains 24/7 by the media, by teachers and by liberal parents. This has elevated political correctness to a ridiculous and unattainable level. No matter how hard we all try, people will get their feelings hurt from time to time; it’s called life. The missing ingredients are good coping skills which in the old days was role modeled by the adults around them. Today, when things go wrong, kids are given the green light to become vicious and vindictive or have tantrums and major meltdowns. If our children are getting the wrong messaging, we only have ourselves to blame. As conservatives, we must take a stand against restrictions on free speech and teach its importance to the younger generations.

Burton Pauly

Personally I intend to express my thoughts as always. I do not intend to allow the so-called speech police to influence what think or say. Free speech is and always will be employed by me. I call -em like I see-em.

archie higgins

the swamp will always need cleaning as long as we let them give themselves a raise?

john s nunan

college students have a herd mentality which will be hard to change. Most students think for themselves but are afraid to express themselves openly….

Bobby Romo

My granddaughter went to U of MN in Marshall, MN and then transferred back home to their U of MN campus. One day of many, I picked her up after class and she pointed out to me the area you have to go to talk freely. That was 2013-2014. I could hear the liberal coming out of her, she was changed. To this day, she doesn’t want to talk “about that stuff” and she will turn off Fox when she is here. She’s lightening up now but she is proof that students get pulled in bigly. Love her to death, she has a manager position and that puts her in a whole different perspective with all kinds of speech. I think she’s coming back. lol

archie higgins

When the church’s cut a deal with the federal government on free speech they cut their own throat. I’ve subjected for years that church’s should have turned their back
on big government and not GOD. I think it would still be right thing? The fellow that wrote this article PHIL ROE would have made American’s a great President.