Constitution-Free Campuses; Conduct Codes Violate Students' Liberty

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 27, 2013 | Go to article overview

Constitution-Free Campuses; Conduct Codes Violate Students' Liberty


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Millions of young Americans are welcoming their first taste of freedom away from home as college classes begin around the country. The experience is soured on a growing number of campuses where administrators have set up a Constitution-free zone that denies basic freedoms.

At Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, S.C., freedom of the press took a hit last week. Distribution of a local alternative newspaper was prohibited on campus because the paper carried too many alcohol-related articles and advertisements.

An Oakland University student was officially declared persona non grata and kicked off campus for writing an entry entitled Hot for teacher as part of a creative-writing assignment. As part of the class, he was told to jot down raw stuff from unedited brainstorming sessions, but the teacher became offended when the resulting stream of consciousness compared her to Ginger, the glamorous actress from Gilligan's Island. Another journal entry contained a more explicit and tasteless paragraph, which offended the teacher so much that she had campus police officers escort the student from the classroom. A U.S. district court judge in Michigan ruled last month that Oakland University did nothing wrong.

The federal government has been embracing campus conduct codes, disseminating them through the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. During the spring semester, the agency teamed up with the Justice Department in a move that is hard to square with the First Amendment's free-speech protections. The agencies chose to rewrite the University of Montana's conduct code as a means of imposing a strict speech code governing harassment allegations for colleges and universities nationwide. …

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