by Christina Sandefur
June 6, 2018
This Friday, I’ll be speaking on a panel called, “What are the Limits of Free Speech?” at the Foundation for Economic Education’s FEEcon, a conference and gathering for freedom lovers in Atlanta, Georgia. Students for Liberty‘s Wolf Von Laer, Reason.com‘s Robby Soave, and I will discuss the public debate around the perceived need to restrict certain kinds of speech, including growing threats to free speech on college campuses.
Nowhere is the need for open debate more important than on America’s college campuses, yet coast to coast, speech is being stifled at universities—sometimes by shout-downs and violence—while administrators do nothing to address the problem. Universities need to recognize the role they play in shaping their students’ openness to ideas and take action to ensure that free expression is protected on their campuses.
That’s why last year, the Goldwater Institute crafted a model bill to address the campus free speech crisis. The model creates an official university policy affirming the importance of free expression, including provisions that create a system of interlocking incentives designed to encourage students and administrators to respect and protect the free expression of others. Laws based on the Institute’s model have been adopted by Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, as well as the Wisconsin state university governing board. That policy is working: When Second Amendment supporter and conservative author Katie Pavlich spoke at UW-Madison, demonstrators staged a protest but did not shout down or otherwise disrupt Ms. Pavlich’s talk, attributing their decision to the new “three strikes” discipline policy based on the Goldwater model.
It’s critical that all speech be protected on our college campuses so students have the opportunity to be exposed to and challenged by diverse ideas. The solution to speech that is perceived as biased or “offensive” is more speech, not less. To learn more about protecting free speech on campus, visit https://www.restorefreespeech.com/.
I look forward to discussing these and other topics in free speech on Friday. If you’re at FEEcon, I hope you’ll join us!
Christina Sandefur is the Executive Vice President at the Goldwater Institute.