Free speech is a massive step in human civilization. The ability to say something without fear of persecution and/or death is a big step in human society and is something that only around fifty countries have. My essay is about free speech in US colleges and how it is rapidly declining at a frightening rate.
In the case of Sweezy vs. New Hampshire in 1957 the Supreme Court said, “Teachers and students must always remain free to enquire, otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.” Many would agree with that statement and consider it true, but in modern US colleges there is a massive restriction on free speech to the point where the comment made by the Supreme Court no longer applies in some places in the US. The US colleges are literally removing free speech from our futures by stamping it out in through what they teach younger people.
In 2010, there was a study by the Association of American colleges and universities. They found that over 70% of college students found it unsafe to hold unpopular positions on campus. This means they may have had opinions and thoughts about issues, but they did not feel safe expressing their thoughts in college.
Another troubling element of the 2010 is that the longer the student spends in the college, the less safe he or she feels about holding and expressing unpopular opinions. If we were to blame outside influences, then students would enter and leave college either as safe or unsafe as they like. However, it is clear that the longer a student spends in college, then the more restricted and repressed his or her freedom of speech is. The freshmen students feel safer using their freedom of speech, but they begin to feel less safe as they move through college.
To clarify, the feeling of safety is safety from repercussions and not from physical harm. The students feel safe from harm in college, but they do not feel safe from the penalization from professors. They feel uneasy about expressing their unpopular positions or opinions within their work and dissertations, and they do not feel as if they are free to speak their true feelings and opinions because they fear they will be marked down and/or looked upon unfavorably by the people that control their grades and ability to get their qualifications.
What is more worrying is the fact that colleges and universities in the US are blatantly restricting student’s freedom of speech. They claim they do it to help avoid people getting offended, which further proves the point that freedom of speech is less important to these colleges that the fear of people being offended. To cast freedom of speech aside for any reason, noble or not, is to shatter its very foundation and urinate in the faces of the people that died for it.
Speech codes are a common and blatant sign that students are having their freedom of speech restricted. The colleges and universities are not even hiding the fact that their speech codes are regulations that limit or bans expression. It literally says that in their regulations.
The first amendment in the US constitution states implicitly that people are allowed to speak and write what they wish, and yet colleges and universities are disregarding it when they set use speech codes. Yet, what is it that colleges are protecting students from? If it were from people writing instructions on how to build a bomb, then one could argue that the protection of life is more important than freedom of speech.
Yet, all of the speech codes in US colleges and universities are there to stop people writing or saying things that the college/university in question feels are offensive. They usually revolve around religion or political views. Colleges and universities in the US are banning students from speaking, writing and even holding opinions that contradict what the college likes, and that is a blatant middle finger to a US citizen’s freedom of speech.
By Bonnie Snyder October 18, 2017
High schoolers: Tell FIRE why free speech is important for college students, and we just might help you become one.
FIRE is pleased to once again be a partnering organization with Free Speech Week, which runs annually each fall to “raise public awareness of the importance of free speech in our democracy and to celebrate that freedom.” In honor of this year’s Free Speech Week, now is the perfect time to reflect on your expressive rights by entering FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest!
Open to high school juniors and seniors, you could win as much as $10,000 for a winning essay — a great reason to sit down and put pen to paper (or, ahem, fingers to keyboard)!
FIRE is a proud partner of Free Speech Week, an annual, nonpartisan event running now, Oct. 16-22.
We’re asking students to educate themselves about how FIRE defends free speech rights on campus, and then to respond to the following prompt:
Explain in 800-1000 words why free speech is so important to higher education, and why censorship undermines the ideals of liberal education and a free society.
While we know your free speech rights are truly priceless, we also know that some extra money to help pay college tuition goes a long way. Seven winners will be selected to share in $20,000 in scholarship prize money.
The deadline for entry is December 31, 2017.
Visit thefire.org/contest, where you can learn more about the contest requirements and details, and find some background material to get you started. We look forwarding to reading your entry!