CSU community members give their takes on free speech

%28Graphic+Illustration+by+Charles+Cohen+%7C+The+Collegian%29

(Graphic Illustration by Charles Cohen | The Collegian)

Ren Wadsworth

Grayson Reed , Photographer

Michael Humphrey, a media ethics and issues professor poses for a portrait in his office on the Colorado State University campus. Feb. 1. 22
Michael Humphrey, a media ethics and issues assistant professor, poses for a portrait in his office on the Colorado State University campus Feb. 1. “Within the classroom there are limitations to what we can do,” Humphrey said. “We don’t have the right of complete free speech within the classroom. You have responsibility to the students and to a wide variety of students as well.” (Collegian | Garrett Mogel)

Colorado State University has many opportunities for students to voice their thoughts effectively, whether students feel the right to protest events on campus, take a position as a member of the student government, personally message their complaint to management officials or just speak their minds with friends at the Ramskeller.

Colorado has its own Student Bill of Rights, which CSU openly embraces. This bill includes the right to file a complaint, the right to seek membership in student organizations and victims’ rights for any form of harassment. CSU acknowledges students’ rights on campus as the same as students’ rights off campus, but are there limitations to what people can say situationally?

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“I think that free speech means that you are able to say whatever you would like to, but that doesn’t mean that other people can’t still hold you accountable,” said Brad Shurts, a botany student at CSU. “That doesn’t change no matter where you are, but yes, on campus and off campus, people are still able to hold you to the same accountability.” Shurts made an important point in that as students, you should be able to speak your mind, voice your opinions and share ideas, but socially, you should be responsible for the things you say.

Yet other students feel more protected on campus than off campus.

“I feel like the free speech on campus has been protected, and if you go off campus, you’re going to have to limit it more,” said Jasmine Murillo, a student at CSU. “I feel like with University students, there is wiggle room, while if you go out in the real world, it’s stricter because there’s parents and parents (who) are so protective of what their kids hear or say.” This brings up being aware of your surroundings when voicing your opinions. Freedom of speech allows you to say what you want with no government limitations, yet there are social repercussions you are accountable for.

The right to free speech covers what you can express in public. Beau Parker, a student at CSU who stood in front of his fraternity’s table on The Plaza to represent and bring in new members, described this aspect of freedom of expression as “what we’re doing here today — the ability to come out here and voice your cause and your organization to a group of people, and they’re all accepting it. I feel like that’s the biggest thing that free speech is. People aren’t refusing what we are doing but accepting it, and I think that’s the biggest form of free speech.”

Beau Parker, a student at Colorado State University advertising for a fraternity, described free speech by stating, “Kind of what we’re doing here today, the ability to come out here and voice your cause and your organization to a group of people and they’re all accepting it and I feel like that’s the biggest thing that free speech is. People aren’t refusing what we are doing but accepting it and I think that’s the biggest form of free speech.” Jan 24. Question 1: do think you have the same free speech on campus as you do off campus? Answer: “Yes and no but I think the no factor is something that you put upon yourself, you just want to please everyone and go within certain guidelines, but I feel like there are certain people that do have both on and off campus, but I feel like its different for different people.” Question 2: do you think employees, mainly professors are limited on their freedoms of speech because they work for the university? Answer: “Yes I do.”
Beau Parker, a student at Colorado State University advertising for a fraternity, described free speech as “kind of what we’re doing here today — the ability to come out here and voice your cause and your organization to a group of people, and they’re all accepting it,” Jan. 24. “I feel like that’s the biggest thing that free speech is. People aren’t refusing what we are doing but accepting it, and I think that’s the biggest form of free speech,” Parker said. (Collegian | Grayson Reed)

Students have many ways to express themselves on campus, but are there limitations to those who are employed by the University? What is the balance of being able to express yourself and still uphold a professional manner while working?

“Within the classroom there are limitations to what we can do,” said Michael Humphrey, a media ethics assistant professor at CSU. “We don’t have the right of complete free speech within the classroom. You have responsibility to the students and to a wide variety of students as well.” Professors have the ability to express themselves in many ways, but what separates them from unprofessional teachers is the knowledge of when to express their opinions.

“I would say (professors are) not that limited,” said Ryan Fry, a student at CSU. “They’re definitely pretty open about what they can say, especially with CSU’s principles of diversity and inclusion. Most professors are pretty open with their opinions in what they can say in regard to free speech.” Their duty is to teach students the material, but having a healthy balance of personal experiences, beliefs and sturdy educational ethics on when to express opinions makes a more well-rounded classroom for fresh and curious conversations.

“I certainly do value free speech in America,” Shurts said. “I think it’s super important, and I am very grateful we do have that in the first place, but quite frankly, I’m a little bit scared for what the future looks like because who’s to say with the way the political climate is heading in this country that we will have that in 20 years? It’s something I feel is being taken for granted, and not everyone understands how important it is or what it really actually means, but for myself and all Americans, I hope it stays around for good.”

Freedom of speech is an important matter on campus, but we as students-becoming-adults must make the same effort off campus and after we graduate as we do currently. We must take the mantle of public officials, we must hold protests and we must express ourselves with friends and strangers. We must take responsibility, and we must continue to be curious about the world by expanding our circle of influence.

Reach Grayson Reed at photo@collegian.com or on Twitter @graysonreed8.

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