Univ. of Oklahoma, Univ. of Texas Join Alliance to Protect Free Speech from College Censors
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College campuses were once considered to be safe places for free speech, but many institutions have bowed to policies that limit free expression in recent years. Now, two universities are joining the ranks of a small coalition of schools that are resisting the anti-free speech movement.
The University of Oklahoma (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) have just joined with almost 100 other schools that recently adopted the University of Chicago's free speech policy.
In 2014, The University of Chicago sent a letter to incoming students that promised they would not be protected against certain ideas, voices, or beliefs, but rather the school would foster everyone's ability to engage in effective debate and deliberation.
This letter has become known as the Chicago Statement.
"The Chicago Statement also states unequivocally that students cannot 'obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views,'" explained alumni and legal scholar Jonathan Turley.
As CBN News reported, The University of Chicago ranked this year as the top university by FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression) for allowing students, faculty, and staff to express their viewpoints.
"The Chicago statement has become the battle line for not just free speech but the future of higher education. While many choose to ignore the rising orthodoxy on our campuses and lack of intellectual diversity on our faculties, this trend will ultimately destroy the essential element of free inquiry and expression needed for higher education," Turley added.
OU and UT recently adopted policies committing to free speech even if most students find that speech "offensive" or "immoral".
The University of Texas announced its policy change in November and OU subscribed to it more recently.
According to OU, the school is adopting the policy despite a major sponsor pulling advertisements from the institution for "previous diversity training efforts" that failed to assure free speech protection.
Meanwhile, UT stated they wanted to establish a set of principles that "pulls free expression out to the front and makes it a preeminent goal and focus of the institution, as it should be."
"UChicago has forced schools and faculty to take sides in this existential fight over free speech," Turley said.
A number of universities are moving toward the rationale that they have a right to silence those they disagree with.
In 2014, University of California Santa Barbara professors supported a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their pro-life display.
"I may be a thief but you are a terrorist," said Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young.
The entire incident was caught on video.
Miller-Young can be seen shoving the advocates.
More recently, students at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri graffitied their own campus last week to protest an on-campus speech by PragerU's Amala Ekpunobi.
The WU students created a wall displaying the faces of dead transgender people and blamed Amala and the school for their deaths because the school agreed to host her.
"It's not that we're stifling anyone's free speech. We just think that some people are (explicative), and we don't want to pay them to be on our campus," wrote a student in the campus newspaper.
"This is the sad state of higher education in America. Students who can't handle their beliefs being challenged resort to spray-painted slander. This is the work of ideologues, not thinkers," responded Ekpunobi on Twitter.
I’ll be speaking at WSU this Friday night and this is how leftist students have responded. They have posted photos of deceased trans people to insinuate that me and my beliefs are somehow responsible for their deaths. This is baseless and disgusting. pic.twitter.com/bWiL6vNMXD— Amala Ekpunobi (@amalaekpunobi) December 7, 2022
The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas are joining 91 other academic institutions that have adopted the Chicago Statement.
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