Keep hope alive. One college rejects free speech zones and safe spaces

posted at 6:41 pm on June 29, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

Let’s take a moment today and focus on some good news for a change. Normally, whenever we cover a story dealing with the special snowflakes on America’s college campuses it focuses on the various “victories” they’ve won in suppressing free speech and disrupting the education system to the point where nobody is being prepared for life in the real world. But at one college in Colorado, a different story played out recently. Following the usual raft of complaints and demands of those who require safe spaces and trigger warnings so as to never be offended, the administrators went in the opposite direction. Welcome to Colorado Mesa University, where the message today seems to be, suck it up, buttercup. (Heat Street)

At least a dozen students complained to faculty at Colorado Mesa University that they were “offended or unsettled” after candidates for president and vice president of student government used the slogan “Feel the D,” new records reviewed by Heat Street show. Such complaints are nothing new — but in an era when trigger-happy college administrators are eager to shield special snowflakes from any possible controversy or offense, Colorado Mesa University’s response was as refreshing as it was rare: They refused to act as censors.

“As I’m sure you would agree, free speech (most especially, political speech) does not require my or anyone’s approval,” wrote John Marshall, vice president for student services, in an April 2016 email reviewed by Heat Street. Students could use the slogan, though “whether or not [it] was/is a good idea and how [they] want to represent themselves is a wholly different discussion.”

I wasn’t previously familiar with the phrase “Feel the D” and I’m not sure it’s the best campaign slogan one could cook up for an election, but it’s also not patently obscene in nature and therefore falls under the general category of free speech. (Side note: The “Feel the D” candidate wound up winning, so what do I know?) But the point here is that the college took the time to point out that dealing with people who may engage in speech which offends you or hold beliefs different than your own is part of the real world and it’s always preferable to censorship. Their vice president for student services added, “no one should be more concerned about free speech than a university.”

Further, the college had previously followed in the path of so many other schools and established so called free speech zones on campus. After receiving complaints from both students and outside activists groups concerned over the censorial nature of this policy, they did away with the zones entirely. This positive message was probably summed up best here: (emphasis added)

“The issue is, how do we confront new ideas and concepts that are different from what we know and expect,” says Marshall. “We need to help challenge our students. You don’t have a right not to be uncomfortable. We don’t always need to create these ultra-sensitive responses. We want them to think critically and deal with each other with respect and civility.”

You don’t have the right not to be uncomfortable. You don’t have the right not to be offended when you leave your home and deal with other human beings. Your preferences and personal sensibilities do not dictate the legal speech and actions of others. And if you come out of four or five years of college and enter the workforce with the impression that this is how the world works you are in for a rude awakening. Best to grow up sooner rather than later and learn to take on life as part of a larger society which will not conform to your whims.

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