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How Does Free Speech on College Campuses Influence Academic Life?

There is a trend going on right now with an increasing number of states open to pass the law of allowing free speech rights in college campuses. This initiative has come so far that it reached the federal level. It culminated with Donald Trump giving an executive order to facilitate free speech on a college campus. Furthermore, the executive order does not only apply to public universities, but it is also very available for private schools. So, if you are not sure how free speech on college campuses will influence academic life, you should read this article and find out more.

Free Speech on College Campuses

  • What can we learn from this initiative?

The biggest advantage of this free speech on college campuses initiative is that it encourages free expression principles. There are already states like Arizona or Virginia where this initiative has been implemented since last year. Therefore, universities from these states included the free speech initiative in their freshmen orientation programs and materials across the campus. Encouraging students to speak their mind and not be afraid to talk in front of others is one of the best lessons colleges can teach its students. Moreover, by putting no barriers in front of free communication creates a positive image for these colleges and makes students trust them for their development.

  • Does this initiative protect speech which invites for violence?

The Supreme Court from Ohio mentions that free speech cannot be punished unless it is considered intentional and it is clear that it provokes violent actions. However, if we think of this initiative and its consequences, we should take two aspects into consideration. On one hand, we are living in a democratic world. This means that we shouldn’t stop people from saying what they think. On the other hand, in a democratic world, people should be held accountable for their actions. Therefore, even though we are talking about students, they should be responsible for their behavior and respond in front of the authorities for any action. So, if someone plans to develop a speech and invite others for violence, then they should understand that they are accountable for such behavior. For those students who are used to paying someone to “write my paper or speech”, they should know that they will be the ones who will respond in front of the law for a violent speech and not the ones who have written it for them and received money to do it.

  • How does free speech initiative affect campus safety?

Free speech on college campus can have two sides. On one hand, it is extremely helpful for both students and teachers to understand each other and develop a positive academic life. However, when students are given speech freedom, things can degenerate on the negative side too. Therefore, speeches which encourage students to have a violent behavior can affect campus safety. What is to be done in this case? Academic staff should take reasonable measures and ensure that their speakers can address a positive message to the audience and stay away from violence.

Free speech on college campuses initiative is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Even though this amendment protects speech irrespective of how offensive it might be, this doesn’t mean that professors should do nothing. They can encourage students to speak their mind while also promoting a positive attitude on college campuses. The secret lies in open communication between students and their teachers.