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Congressional report details ‘pervasive degradation’ of First Amendment rights on college campuses


Daily Caller News Foundation

A congressional report released by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Thursday describes the “long-standing and pervasive degradation of First Amendment rights” on college campuses.

The report, titled “Freedom of Speech and Its Protection on College Campuses,” details the committee’s findings on First Amendment violations such as “cancellations” of events to please “one-sided woke faculty and administrators.” The report provided legislation suggestions to protect freedom of speech and prevent a “plague of illiberalism,” including disclosure requirements of free speech policies and mandated neutrality to prevent colleges from commenting on public policy or social issues.

“Freedom of speech is a vital ingredient to American postsecondary education. Without it, our universities lose their purpose as truth seeking institutions and become pseudo-indoctrination camps where all truth trickles down from the top of bloated administrations,” the committee wrote in the report.

The report cited a survey that found over 60% of students believe the political and social climate prevents people from openly expressing their opinions on their campus. The same survey stated that 88% of students believe their college should encourage respectful dialogue with people who have different views.

In early September, a survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression revealed that 56% of students expressed concern about their reputation being damaged due to a misunderstanding over something they’ve said or done. Free speech has been threatened by college campuses across the country with conservative speech as the main target.

The committee outlined specific examples of controlled speech, including attempts to restrict protests to a specific area called “free speech zones,” “political litmus tests” that encourage students to sign or provide statements that support a certain ideology and “social ostracization.” To battle the restriction of free speech, the report called to federal government to protect the First Amendment right and pass free speech legislation that will establish enforcement systems to protect it.

The report mentioned two pieces of legislation that would “protect expressive rights on college campuses.” Republican North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy’s Campus Free Speech Restoration Act, which punishes colleges for encouraging students to believe a particular political or social ideology during the admissions process or faculty hiring, and Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik’s Restoring Academic Freedom on Campus Act, which requires all Title IV-funded schools to stop the use of political tests during the processes for admissions, hiring and promotions, were considered potential legislation by the committee.

“For the preservation of a pluralist society, universities also have a moral duty to promote free speech,” the report reads. “When censorship or demagoguery become the norm, existing power structures become further entrenched and mobs become commonplace, perpetually searching for heretics to burn on the altar of public opinion.”

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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