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Creating Dialogue in the Interest of Social Justice on Campus

Institutional Culture

Creating Dialogue in the Interest of Social Justice on Campus

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In a polarized national climate, free speech and First Amendment protections have drawn increasing attention on college campuses. With the advent of open white nationalism, expressions of white supremacy, and the potential for hate speech, campuses have sought to protect student safety and guard against the harassment of minoritized students. As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) indicates, “An open society depends on liberal education, and the whole enterprise of liberal education is founded on the principle of free speech.” At the same time, however, the ACLU warns that the First Amendment does not protect behavior that involves “targeted harassment or threats, or that creates a pervasively hostile environment for vulnerable students.” Similarly, in its 1992 statement on “Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes,” the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) indicates that freedom of thought and expression are essential to institutions of higher learning but warns that civility is fragile and can easily be destroyed.

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