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Stop the Attack on Free Speech and Due Process on Campuses

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OPEN SOCIETIES NEED OPEN CAMPUSES. But now, free speech and due process are under assault. The vast majority of universities now have “speech codes” and “free speech zones,” and persons accused of sexual misconduct no longer receive basic due process protections.

Laura Kipnis and Grant Neal are two recent examples of this attack on our basic rights:

  • Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, published an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education questioning her university’s sexual harassment policy. As a result, she became the target of an investigation based on an allegation that her article created a “chilling effect” on students’ ability to report sexual misconduct.
  • Grant Neal, a pre-med major at Colorado State University-Pueblo, had a consensual sexual relationship and his girlfriend ended up with a hickey on her neck. A classmate reported the hickey, and he was soon suspended from school.

These travesties of justice have occurred at the hands of the federal Office for Civil Rights. The OCR has issued a series of directives which say any speech that is subjectively viewed as “offensive” is sexual harassment, and mandate the elimination of numerous due process protections for the accused.

Accused students often aren’t given specifics of the complaint and may not even be allowed to see the evidence being used against them. Investigations are biased against the defendant. The presumption of innocence no longer applies. 

The Higher Education Act is coming up soon for reauthorization. We call on Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, leaders of the Senate HELP committee, to take immediate and decisive steps to REIN IN THE FEDERAL OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS.

 

 

 



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