The Constitution Need Not Decide How Harvard Regulates Speech

February 01, 2024 1 min read

Randall L. Kennedy
The Harvard Crimson

Nearly forty years ago, then-University President Derek C. Bok wrote an open letter championing a libertarian ethos of free speech at Harvard that would satisfy even its most ardent defenders. His views, he noted, were “in keeping with the main lines of Constitutional thought. . . . Despite recognizing that Harvard is a private institution and thus outside the sweep of the First Amendment, Bok nevertheless maintained that Harvard should not “have less free speech than the surrounding society — or than a public university.” . . .  

The Harvard community, however, ought not be doctrinaire in its reliance on the First Amendment. Harvard should govern speech on campus according to a separate standard anchored solely by academic concerns . . . . For example, if Harvard were bound by the First Amendment, the University would be compelled to permit students to chant, in the middle of Harvard Yard, “no means yes, and yes means anal” or “send the Blacks back to Africa”or “exterminate the Jews!” — all phrases that, standing alone, are protected when uttered in a public space like Cambridge Common or the quad at the University of Massachusetts. . . . Ought Harvard be so permissive?

Click here for link to full article

Leave a comment


Also in National Free Speech News & Commentary

Prepare Now for an Election Firestorm

July 15, 2024 1 min read

Matthew Kuchem
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: As the U.S. presidential campaign takes a violent turn, colleges and universities need to prepare for major political upheaval and campus disruptions. Last academic year’s campus protests demonstrated that much of higher education is ill-equipped to handle certain political controversies.

But the fall will not just be a redux of the spring. When students return to campuses, the wild presidential campaign will be entering the final stretch, setting the stage for disruptions that will accelerate through the end of the semester and possibly beyond. The forecast is grim, and the conditions are ripe, not for a flare-up but for an inferno.
Read More
Alumni group pressures MIT for institutional neutrality policy, more free speech protections

July 11, 2024 1 min read

Gavin Farinholt

The College Fix

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology made headlines in May when its leaders told faculty to discontinue the practice of requiring mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion statements in faculty hiring.

But a prominent MIT alumni group argues the move is not enough to protect free speech, academic freedom and intellectual diversity, and is calling on campus leaders to go further.

Read More
Title IX Regs Treat Students as Political Pawns

July 11, 2024 1 min read

Chris Linder

Inside Higher Ed

I was a victim advocate on a college campus for seven years. Since 2011, I have worked as a faculty member whose research, teaching and activism focuses on addressing sexual violence among college students. And for the past five years, I’ve led the development of a center for violence prevention on a campus where three women were murdered by domestic or dating partners in one year, followed by an additional alleged domestic violence homicide four years later.

Few things make me more ashamed or angry than the way the federal government attempts to intervene in sexual misconduct on college campuses. Politicians use survivors and transgender students as pawns in a political power struggle.

Read More