College. An institution that prepares students for professions that require higher education to enter. Allowing individuals to develop and expand their horizons. College institutions have been celebrated for a long time to help people succeed. Because it has been in the middle of political and social debates, colleges have a history of protests. After all, the greatest legacy is The Free Speech Movement, where they fought for the rights to freely speak on their campus.
However, the times have changed. Designated free speech zones, suppression of student’s voices, shaming individuals, and penalizing students are just a few additions to colleges. But the penalized voice is conservative free speech.
A Story From College
To give a clear understanding of what it is like, this writer is going to give you a first-hand experience from my college days. It was after the major protests at the University of Missouri. I was the vice-president of a club that did not participate in politics. Our meeting took place in an open area near an event. The first thing I heard from my president was, “Is that a College Republican event?”
During that time, I avoided politics. Mostly because I found it divisive. However, the next things that came from the club officers astonished me. They began heckling and insulting them with loud voices. President claiming they wanted him dead because he was transgender. Saying how they will protect one of the officers because he was black. I saw a girl cry and others become uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable. Because I knew.
I knew that if it was the other way around, people would be screaming and attacking us. It was harassment. However, that never happened. Because I knew that on college campuses, conservative speech did not have the same freedom as others.
State of Free Speech on Campus
There is a fundamental disconnect happening between students wanting freedom of speech and their willingness to protect it. In The First Amendment On Campus 2020 Report, the division is somewhat horrifying. While an overwhelming majority believes free speech is important, they actively restrict it as well. With the same breath, 78% of students would restrict offensive speech to specific areas or ban certain words or costumes. In addition, 25% of these students think restricting speech political views that are upsetting and offensive.
Basically, students believe in freedom of speech but they don’t want everything that comes with it. And colleges seem to be happy to reply. After all, many colleges now have free speech zones where people can “say whatever they want.” Meaning the rest of the institution is willing to freely restrict speech if they want. However, the biggest question is what “political views” are so upsetting that they should be restricted?
Well, you already know that answer.
Conservative Speech on College Campus
To say college campus is an inhospitable place for conservatives would be an understatement. For an institution that is supposed to be a “marketplace of ideas,” they are really lacking that department. Conservative students find themselves self-censoring 3 times as much as their liberal counterparts. Although some would claim that self-censor is a choice, it is hard to believe considering you would be persecuted by your own peers and teachers.
However, outside of self-censor, there is actual violence against college conservatives. You can type it in on most search engines and get some horrifying results. Someone being assaulted at UC Berkeley, students committing arson at Tulane, and a man trying to lock in conservatives at the University of Washington. These are just a small handful of stuff that has been done. However, when a conservative speaker comes for an event, it gets worse.
Most people know Ben Shapiro and the California State University, but if you don’t, here are the basics. The students in the Young Americans for Freedom invited Shapiro to speak at an event. However, after the posters were up. The students were attacked by faculty and peers, with one professor threatening to fight the students.
Although the university tried to cancel this event, charging security fees and for the event being controversial, Shapiro still came. Student protestors were shoving students to prevent them from going and pulled the fire alarm. These types of mobs are common, purposefully violent and destructive to prevent people from speaking. However, Shapiro’s response to these events was the first step towards changing the conservative speech on campus.
Fight for Your Free Speech
After the event at California State, Shapiro filed a lawsuit against the school’s violation of the first amendment. That lawsuit caused California State to instantly change its policies in regards to “controversial speakers.” But why did the college change its ideas so quickly? Because people pushed back. Although college is hostile towards different viewpoints, it will remain that way until people push for change. All opinions should have protection, even if they are upsetting to others. Free speech should be for everyone. Speaking out about these issues is what is going to change college campuses. Because conservative free speech on college campuses should not be different from everyone else.