Brust: CSU educates and informs with new ‘First Amendment’ website

Allec Brust

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.   

It’s about time Colorado State University gave campus an educational resource on the first amendment.

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In an email send out last week, Blanche Hughes and Rick Miranda announced the newly launched firstamendment.colostate.edu as a, “website focused on the First Amendment and free speech in higher education that offers resources and information for those navigating these complex issues here at CSU.” 

Once a nuanced conversation only to be had by journalists and activists, ‘free speech’ has transformed into a definitively fluid term that can be misinterpreted. On college campuses, issues surrounding free speech and its boundaries have been too long oppressed and left for the media to condemn instead of for the university to analyze. When free speech zones were abolished under Senate Bill 62, the conversation took a shift. Yes, speech should be protected, but it can harm others, so it should still be monitored. The campus free speech conversation continued following Berkleys reaction to controversial speaker, Milo Yiannopoulas. The overwhelming question remains: how can we balance unrestricted free speech with making sure students feel safe? And, how can we keep students safe when controversy arises? 

Photo Illustration by Olive Ancell | Collegian

CSUs new website may not be the solution, but it is a step forward. CSU has been mirroring contentious events nationwide. 2017 was a year filled with hate crimes at CSU, which has undoubtedly heightened racial tensions on campus.

Of course, tensions arise when controversy ensues. This week, Turning Point USA is hosting a ‘Smashing Socialism‘ event featuring speaker Charlie Kirk. On a predominantly liberal campus, Kirks event is sure to illicit some contention. Now, students who are concerned have an outlet to see what exactly the university views as acceptable. Hopefully, students are prepped to have healthy conversations about opposing viewpoints come Kirks event. 

This new website is going to be a major source of guidance for conversations and protests moving forward. Frankly, it is a long awaited source that will benefit and educate CSU faculty and students. It is refreshing to see such dedicated work go into a pressing issue. 

One particular section of the website details the the ‘First Amendment Conversation Series,’ a faculty education program piloted in December, 2017 that will continue throughout the spring semester. The series is designed to provide resources, information, and best practices for faculty and staff as they navigate issues and questions around the First Amendment and free speech on campus, according to the website.  

The sessions offered this semester include, ‘What Faculty & Staff Need to Know’ and ‘Proactive Strategies for Inclusion.’ This approach to free speech as a topic of education is an excellent plan for the campus, as professors and staff will have a basis of how to educate students on campus in a way that is applicable to CSU and CSU alone. 

In addition to the conversation series, the website gives information on free speech and peaceful assembly on campus, guidance for what you can do if you disapprove of a speaker, and an interesting history of controversial speakers that have come to CSUs campus. 

Overall, the informational and educational approach to campus free speech is a refreshing approach to the issues marginalized groups have endured on campus. Hopefully, having a source to turn to and an educated faculty will continue the conversation surrounding the first amendment and its presence on campus.

Kirks event next Friday is going to be the perfect trial run for the websites effectiveness. To learn more about upcoming events and speakers on campus, visit firstamendment.colostate.edu. 

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Collegian editor Allec Brust can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online @allecbrust.