Rutgers: No such thing as 'free' speech
“There is no such thing as ‘free’ speech,” according to Rutgers University.
The apparent denial of free speech is part of the public university’s effort to combat student bias on campus. The university’s Bias Prevention and Education Committee lists five ways for students to avoid committing “bias incidents.” Tops on the list is the command that students “Think Before [They] Speak.”
“All speech has a cost and consequences.”
To clarify what this means, the university warns students that “[t]here is no such thing as ‘free’ speech.” However, The university’s student code of conduct contains zero references to “free speech” or “freedom of speech.”
“All speech,” the university continues, “has a cost and consequences.”
The university defines “bias acts” as “[v]erbal, written, physical, psychological acts that threaten or harm a person or group on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, atypical heredity or cellular blood trait, military service or veteran status.”
The university encourages students to report “bias incidents”—which can be done anonymously—using an online Incident Report Form. Students can report bias incidents as either a victim or a witness.
The Bias Prevention and Education Committee lists four other ways for students to avoid committing a bias incident.
Students are encouraged to “overcome cultural biases” and to join “activities, programs, courses, and practices that promote diversity and social justice.”
The university also encourages students to “[l]ose stereotypes about any group.” There is “no such thing as a ‘positive’ stereotype,” according to the university. “All stereotypes are inherently negative, hurtful, and damaging.”
The Bias Prevention and Education Committee, according to the university, is a “two-tiered body comprised of the Deans of Students Bias Response Team and the Bias Prevention Education Advisory Panel working in concert to MONITOR, PREVENT, REPORT, RESPOND, and RESTORE environments in the aftermath of BIAS INCIDENTS.”
Rutgers professors are encouraged to prevent bias inside the classroom by using “the syllabus to create ground rules with regard to difference and disagreement.” Professors are also encouraged to ask their students “how they feel about provocative material, especially that which references issues of race, sexuality, gender, class, religion or any of the other ‘protected classes.’”
The university did not respond to a voicemail requesting comment.
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