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2019 Constitutional Freedoms Task Force Report

I. Free Speech on College Campus

A. Introduction

TCCRI has taken note of the increasing problem of suppressed speech on colleges campuses since atleast January 2017, in which a TCCRI white paper titled “Campus Free Speech Protection” explained that “the rights to speak freely and to freely associate on college campuses are in peril.”i Indeed, the paper argued:

The Legislature should re-affirm the state’s commitment to open and robust dialogue oncollege campuses, including speech some may find offensive. Interacting with students from different walks of life who hold different views on a broad array of topics is one of the many benefits of higher education, and students should not be sheltered from or denied that opportunity because the views of some students are unpopular or controversial.ii

Institutions of higher education have a longstanding reputation as places where contrasting ideas are exchanged freely. Students attending those schools are exposed to ideas they may disagree with, but they need to be taught to tolerate and be respectful of different views, even if those views are offensive and hurtful. The marketplace of ideas has a long, successful history of good ideas prevailing over bad. The practices of disinviting provocative speakers, punishing speech with overly broad “speech codes,” and relegating free speech to designated “zones” are not in line with the historical role institutions of higher education have played in fostering a robust and rich public discourse.

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