On February 23, 2016, student activists of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, committed the egregious crime of offering their peers the opportunity to write on their shirts in support of free speech. Students could write anything, and did: “not enough on campus housing,” “diversity,” and “love God,” were just a few of the phrases students wrote while exercising their 1st amendment rights.
Quickly realizing how dangerous and out of control a handful of students writing on shirts could get, police officers soon arrived at the scene and asked if the students had a permit to perform such a disruptive activity. The students said they did not, and in a matter of minutes, were informed by the police and campus administrative officials that they would all have to leave because it was “against university policy.”
The story was picked up by the Auburn University campus newspaper, The Plainsman, and FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). Read the story by The Plainsman here.
That’s when CFACT got involved. Partnering with the original students who were kicked off campus a few weeks ago, CFACT coordinated a second free speech demonstration on March 9, 2016. This time students wore tape over their mouths and bore signs supporting freedom of expression and whatever else the students felt passionate about. Two students in particular held signs that said: “YOUR VOICE MATTERS” and “TRUE TOLERANCE IS FREE SPEECH.”
The students also handed out flyers addressing the dangers of political correctness and the infringement of student rights. In addition, the flyers advocated for the enactment of the Declaration of Student Rights endorsed by the University of Chicago.
The University of Chicago declaration states: “…debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.”
It goes on to say: “…concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.”
In light of the combined pressure and extensive second protest, Auburn officials have agreed to revise the speech codes on campus so that they are less burdensome in requiring permits and restricting students to certain low-traffic areas on campus.
“Requiring permits for demonstrations or restricting students to free speech zones infringe on our 1st amendment rights,” said sophomore Wesley Stone, the leader of both protests. “We’re ecstatic our combined efforts are changing these policies and we hope it has a ripple effect around the country!”
Chalk this up as a victory against the political correctness that has plagued our nation’s universities!
CFACT will continue to fight for students’ rights throughout the country. One pocket of the liberal thought police has been defeated. There are many more pillars of political correctness to be toppled over.