Friday, January 06, 2012

Clear campus rules needed on ‘harassment’

Greg Lukianoff, the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has this piece in The Washington Post.  Key takeway

The concept of freedom of speech is under fire by college campuses AND the Obama Administration:

Overly broad harassment codes remain the weapon of choice on campus to punish speech that administrators dislike. In a decade fighting campus censorship, I have seen harassment defined as expressions as mild as “inappropriately directed laughter” and used to police students for references to a student government candidate as a “jerk and a fool” (at the University of Central Florida in 2006) and a factually verifiable if unflattering piece on Islamic extremism in a conservative student magazine (at Tufts University in 2007). Other examples abound. Worryingly, such broad codes and heavy-handed enforcement are teaching a generation of students that it may be safer to keep their mouths shut when important or controversial issues arise. Such illiberal lessons on how to live in a free society are poison to freewheeling debate and thought experimentation and, therefore, to the innovative thinking that both higher education and our democracy need.

Just because I say something that you don't like doesn't make harassment.  It might make it rude, it might make it unpleasant, but it doesn't mean it should be banned simply because some college administrator thinks it is harassment.

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