Free speech advocate: UT students 'self censor' because they are 'terrified' (VIDEO)

  • The nonprofit organization Speech First announced earlier this month that it is suing the University of Texas over "vague" and "unconstitutional" speech policies.
  • Speech First President Nicole Neily joined Fox News' Tucker Carlson recently to discuss the basis for her case.

Nicole Neily, president of the free speech nonprofit Speech First, joined Fox News' Tucker Carlson recently to discuss her organization's latest lawsuit, a case on which Campus Reform  previously reported. 

The lawsuit, filed on Dec. 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleges that the University of Texas engages in "unconstitutional" practices, which Neily outlined in a segment with Carlson. 

"Students, out of an abundance of caution, just self-censor because they're terrified"   

"We allege that the University of Texas has four unconstitutional policies on the books," Neily told Carlson. "They have a verbal harassment policy, a campus climate response team, a bias response tea, as you said, an acceptable use policy, which governs all internet and digital use on the campus, another residence hall manual, and all of those policies violate students' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights because students are terrified to express their opinions."

"So they don't know what they can be in trouble for. These policies are written so broad[ly] with such bizarre vague terms that students, out of an abundance of caution, just self-censor because they're terrified," Neily added. 

[RELATED: UT gets sued for punishing 'biased' and 'rude' speech]



Neily told Carlson that the terms included in the policy are "very vague," which means that "it's definitely in the eye of the beholder" as to what is acceptable and what is not. 

“By failing to define highly subjective terms such as ‘offensive,’ ‘biased,’ ‘uncivil,’ and ‘rude,’ the University of Texas has given itself broad discretion to determine which speech – and whose speech – violates their policies," Neily said in a press release the day her organization filed the lawsuit. "Unfortunately, this fails to pass Constitutional muster.”

[RELATED: Disturbing percentage of American colleges restrict speech, study finds]

UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird told Campus Reform that "the university’s policies vigorously protect students’ First Amendment rights" and that the University of Texas at Austin "strongly values and protects free speech, and all students, faculty, and staff have the right of free speech and expression on the UT Austin campus."

At the time, Bird said that university officials had not had a chance to review the lawsuit but that "at first glance, it appears to be incomplete on certain facts. We look forward to reviewing it and responding through legal channels."

 Follow the author of this article on Facebook: @JonStreet and Twitter: @JonStreet



STAY INFORMED
Get exclusive access to breaking CampusReform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we'll keep you in the loop.
 Weekly Digest

 Daily Emails

Jon Street
Jon Street | News Editor

Jon Street is a news editor for Campus Reform. Six years ago, Jon cut his reporting teeth fresh out of college as an intern at Media Research Center's CNSNews.com, where he interviewed multiple members of Congress and former presidential candidates. From there, he went on to complete a stint at Watchdog.org, where his exclusive, investigative work was picked up or cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, National Review, and the Drudge Report, among others. More recently, Jon spent three years as an assistant editor at TheBlaze.com. In his free time, Jon enjoys trying new coffeehouses around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and traveling back to his home state of Missouri to spend time with his family.

20 Articles by Jon Street