The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
June 6, 2024

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders stands out as a prime prospect for the 2025 NFL Draft, and it’s no surprise he's the current favorite...

Free speech: The forbidden fruit of top 25 liberal arts colleges

Haleigh McGill
Haleigh McGill

Throughout the year, many of the nation’s college campuses, mainly liberal arts-focused colleges, have stirred up a storm around the issue of free speech. Although the right to free speech is clearly protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment, it appears that the top 25 liberal arts colleges in the country don’t care.

In an article regarding censorship from Campus Reform, author Sterling Beard breaks down a report released in January by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) revealing that these top 25 schools, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, do not recognize the value or the importance of practicing free speech and expression. According to Beard’s article, “ACTA reports that 14 of the top schools were given a ‘Red Light’ freedom of speech rating by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) because they have ‘at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.’

Ad

An additional eleven schools have a ‘Yellow Light’ rating because their policies ‘restrict a limited amount of protected expression or could too easily be used to restrict protected expression.’ None of the schools, which included private and public institutions, received a ‘Green Light’ rating from FIRE, which signifies that a school’s policies do not imperil free speech.”

I see these findings as a major cause for concern, especially because the dictionary definition of “liberal” is “favoring or permitting freedom of action … with respect to matters of personal belief or expression; favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible … as guaranteed by law and secured by government protection of civil liberties.”

Some of the faculty members and students who represent these institutions have become irrational and even hostile when it comes to matters of free speech that don’t necessarily line up with popular opinion. In a Wall Street Journal article regarding Smith College‘s alumnae panel that addressed issues surrounding freedom of expression and the “intolerance for diverse opinions that prevails on many campuses,” author Harvey Silvergate makes an excellent, encompassing statement about free speech: “Those who try to protect academic freedom and the ability of the academy to discuss the world as it is are swimming against the current. In such an atmosphere, liberal arts education can’t survive.”

Academic institutions that fail to adhere to the proper rules surrounding free speech – which could encompass both societal norms and those put in place by the constitution – act as an intellectual and social detriment to students. It’s quite literally a setback, putting those students back to a time where speaking freely was not a right nor was it truly welcomed.

Students choose to continue into higher education in order to broaden their horizons and the scope of possibility, not to fit into a suppressive, cookie-cutter template of what those with institutional power think those students should do or say. 

This is not the Dark Ages, and we are not oppressed American students still fighting for our right to speak freely. The First Amendment reminds us that freedom of speech is already a right, and it should be practiced and accepted as such in order for our society to progress and move forward. Students have that fire for learning, cultivating new ideas, standing up and speaking out. The college years are when that fire is at its brightest, and no member of an academic institution has the right to put it out.

Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @haleighmcgill.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *