Last spring, CFACT collegians at Auburn University overturned the unfair “free speech zones” which restricted the exercise of their first amendment right to a small courtyard on an infrequently visited fringe of campus. Collegians at the University at Albany, SUNY wanted to keep up the momentum in favor of free speech for the new school year by giving their peers the opportunity to write on a free speech wall to show support for the First Amendment to the Constitution.
“You can write whatever you want. ‘Really?’ That’s what everyone says. And I’m like ‘Yes! That’s the whole point of the first amendment.'” said Tim Peterra, who helped engage with students on campus. “Write things others will disagree with. Write something that is controversial. Write something that you identify with. The free speech wall helps students realize how amazing and necessary to democracy the right to free speech really is.”
When a student attends a college or university, their mind should be subjected to challenging thoughts and ideas. The student should be presented with ideas that make them uncomfortable or even offend them. Only by approaching these issues through critical thinking and discourse will the student grow and mature. That is one of the beautiful aspects of free speech. Unfortunately, the First Amendment is under attack at institutions of higher education all across the country. For example, at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, political student groups are being charged exorbitant fees for mandated security at their events because they are deemed “too controversial.”
Even President Obama came out in favor of free speech on college campuses. Speaking to Howard University, he said: “So don’t try to shut folks out, don’t try to shut them down, no matter how much you might disagree with them. There’s been a trend around the country of trying to get colleges to disinvite speakers with a different point of view, or disrupt a politician’s rally. Don’t do that — no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths.”
You know the social justice warriors (those who campaign for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” to guard against possible offensive speech) are off base when even President Obama speaks out against their viewpoints. But hey, they have every right to disagree with him. Freedom of speech after all.