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Free Speech Week is more important on campus than ever before

Protesters shout before a speaking engagement by Ben Shapiro on the campus of the University of California Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Several streets around the University of California, Berkeley, were closed off Thursday with concrete and plastic barriers ahead of an evening appearance by the conservative commentator — the latest polarizing event to raise concerns of violence on the famously liberal campus.(AP Photo/Josh Edelson)

By Alexander Staudt, Washington Examiner

Education, like other facets of our society, is constantly changing to adapt to advancements in technology, thought, and policy. However, not every change is necessarily positive. Issues of free speech have made national headlines — whether it’s an op-ed in The Daily Princetonian or a news piece in Campus Reform documenting violent responses to a peaceful protest. The ideology behind such actions is being carried into other aspects of collegiate life, slowly eradicating the very purpose of education: to engage in thoughtful discourse.

Collegiate education has always held an esteemed place in our society, a space that encourages critical thinking, thoughtful engagement with various ideas, and differing viewpoints. The ability to express one’s opinion is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. But what we are seeing now is a battle among students and faculty on what free speech means and the degree to which free speech is accepted on college campuses.

The debate over speakers coming to campus and then subsequently being disinvited is one major component of the debate over free speech rights. A few days ago, Mark Edmundson, a University of Virginia professor, argued that faculty, not students, should decide which speakers come to campus.He cited the need to bring “scholars, scientists, and artists, as well as bona fide statesmen and women” instead of entertainers.

Yes, universities should seek to bring intellectual scholars to their campuses, but that does not necessarily mean student groups should not be able to invite speakers they are otherwise interested in hearing from.

Read more on the Washington Examiner.


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