How students can help advance freedom on their campuses

  • Today's students are tomorrow's judges, legislators, teachers, and voters.
  • College students of all political, religious, or other views can – and should – come together to embrace the true marketplace of ideas by welcoming speakers and opinions that differ from their own.

Every day we hear of a new example of college and university officials violating the constitutional liberties of their students.

This happens every time they arrest people for handing out copies of the Constitution, allow mobs to block entrances to speaking events they don’t like, and deny student groups official recognition or funding because of their viewpoint. And, yes, those are all actual examples of how colleges and universities across the country are suppressing the free speech of their students – just from the last year alone and in cases the ADF Center for Academic Freedom is handling.

The first line of defense against these violations of constitutional principles is the student body...   

The first line of defense against these violations of constitutional principles is the student body acting for freedom and helping to restore a true marketplace of ideas on their campuses.

And how can they accomplish this? First, these students must be equipped with the knowledge of what their rights are. They must get #freedomwoke, if you will. And then, they must take a stand. By signing the petition at, they will be calling on their public university and college campuses to:

— Treat their students like free-thinking adults, not children in need of supervision and of protection from exposure to the ideas of others.

— Eliminate the speech codes that prescribe what their students can say, the speech zones that limit where and when they can say it, any policies that control who can speak for and lead student groups, and repeal all other speech restrictions that violate their rights and interfere with their ability to communicate openly and effectively with one another.

— End the mandatory student activity fees that add to student debt and compel them to fund others' activism they would not voluntarily support.

— Respect and protect the constitutional freedoms of their students, always remembering that these are inalienable rights, not the gift of the government, and that they reign supreme over any conflicting university policy, program, or handbook.

— Reject the easy path of succumbing to the political pressure, intimidation, and censorship exerted by the loudest and most aggressive, and defend the free exchange of ideas that should be the hallmark of our colleges.

Today's students are tomorrow's judges, legislators, teachers, and voters. The lessons they are learning about how to function as responsible citizens and how to respect the constitutional rights of those with whom they disagree will remain with them long after they leave campus.

That’s why college students of all political, religious, or other views can – and should – come together to embrace the true marketplace of ideas by welcoming speakers and opinions that differ from their own.

And they can start by signing signing this petition.

This article was originally published at Alliance Defending Freedom. It is republished here with permission. 

Follow ADF on Twitter: @alliancedefends

Follow Casey Mattox on Twitter: @caseymattox_

Disclosure: The Leadership Institute, the parent organization of Campus Reform, was involved in the creation of the petition. 

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Casey Mattox
Alliance Defending Freedom | Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

13 Articles by Alliance Defending Freedom

  • Unsafe Space: The glaring intolerance of Stanford activists

    What happened when two conservatives arrived at an open meeting on prison divestment to contribute their perspectives? They were thrown out, of course.

    Amy Shen Oct 20, 2017 - 3:40 PM EDT
  • How does your state measure up on student free speech?

    Universities are regulating what students may say, when and where they can say it, and even who will speak for them.

    Casey Mattox Sep 15, 2017 - 2:18 PM EDT
  • Lumberjacks in Northern Arizona sure are touchy these days

    "The college campus is a giant unsafe space for independent thinkers[.]"

    James Gottry May 08, 2017 - 10:29 AM EDT
  • UMD prez: Trump wants to 'make America white and Christian again'

    UMD’s president is doubling down on his post-election anti-Trump rhetoric, but says students should wait until Trump assumes office to protest his policies.

    Tyler Arnold Nov 21, 2016 - 2:51 PM EDT
  • Clemson admin offers recusal after students question relation to protest leader

    Several Clemson students got a hostile reception Thursday when they started asking questions about a possible conflict of interest in the school’s investigation of a racial bias incident.

    Peter Fricke and Anthony Gockowski Apr 23, 2016 - 12:00 PM EDT
  • Students react to SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

    Student advocates on the stairs of the Supreme Court responded to today’s close 5-4 decision which made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states.

    Mariana Barillas Jun 26, 2015 - 3:58 PM EDT
  • Penn State frat suspended after cops uncover Facebook page of passed out, nude girls at parties

    One of the fraternity’s Facebook pages, called “Covert Business Operations,” had already been taken down after a female found a topless photo of herself on the page and threatened to take action. The second private page, “2.0,” was then created and remained open and active throughout the police investigation with almost 150 members.

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn Mar 19, 2015 - 12:15 PM EDT
  • VIDEO: University removes wrecking ball sculpture after students ride it naked like Miley Cyrus

    Hundreds of students protested at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University on Tuesday night after administrators removed a swinging sculpture that resembles a wrecking ball.

    Josiah Ryan Sep 18, 2013 - 9:59 AM EDT
  • UCLA student government looks to ban term ‘illegal immigrant’

    The undergraduate student government at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling for the end of the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant,” saying it violates human rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

    Katherine Timpf Sep 02, 2013 - 2:35 PM EDT
  • FL Professor Wants Communist Revolution, Says Occupy "Not Radical Enough"

    A Florida professor has been captured on film advocating for a communist revolution and lamenting that the Occupy movement is not radical enough.

    Jamil Khader, an English professor at Stetson University, told his students that communism and a stronger state are needed to thwart "predatory capitalism." In a lecture titled "Is Lenin Good for the Occupy Wall Street Movement?", Khader explained that such a revolution would not start on its own:

    "If Lenin is to be repeated--or the idea of communism as I explained it before--then the national liberation movements in the global south should retroactively be considered one of those causal nodes around which a revolutionary act is formed today...There can be no waiting for the right moment of a revolution to mature on its own and explode. But under certain conditions, it is legitimate--even advisable--to catalyze and force the revolution to come into existence."

    He went on to attack the free enterprise system, stating that the role of the post-colonial state is to protect its subjects from capitalism.

    "If you let it be like that," he said. "capitalism and corporations are simply going to extort more juice from these areas--leaving nothing basically there. The only way to roll it back is to have a stronger state...a dictatorship of the proletariat if it ever happens."

    Khader did not limit his broadsides to capitalism. He periodically took shots at conservative commentator Glenn Beck throughout the discussion, mocking Beck as "insane" and his dire warnings as "sensational rhetoric."

    This is not the first time that Khader, a Palestinian Arab, has dabbled in controversy. He is notoriously anti-Israel, and has publicly accused that republic of apartheid and genocide. When Stetson's Hillel group invited IDF troops to campus for the purpose of teaching students traditional Israeli song and dance, Khader objected--even going so far as to send a bad-tempered letter to the students involved. He has also signed off on boycotts of Israeli businesses.

    Nicolas Tomboulides Dec 03, 2012 - 3:27 PM EDT
  • UPenn offers new queer bioethics course

    The University of Pennsylvania has introduced “Queer Bioethics” as an academic discipline under the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Perelman School of Medicine.

    The program was created by Lance Wahlert an associate in the Master of Bioethics Program, and Autumn Fiester, director of graduate studies in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

    The two teamed up in 2010 to create a queer bioethics course and have diligently worked to expand the program.  According to the Daily Pennsylvanian (DP), the project has more than 300 scholars from 25 countries with a journal dedicated to the subject in the works.

    Wahlert and Fiester plan to integrate more “queer content” into preexisting bioethics courses at Penn.

    An example of a few of the issues listed on the website site which the project will focus on include “recognition of LGBT patient surrogates,” “blood donation standards for same-sex sexually active individuals,” “the dilemmas of gay youth studies,” and “hetero-biased sex education.”

    “The test of whether queer bioethics is sustained and whether it succeeds will not be the popping up of literal departments,” Fiester told the DP. “It will be the proliferation of deep and profound scholarship and work.”

    University of Pennsylvania administrators did not respond to requests for comment to LI’s Campus Reform.

    Source: The Daily Pennsylvanian.

    Timothy Dionisopoulos Nov 13, 2012 - 5:02 PM EDT