NDSU president laments lack of 'legally permissible tools' to fight 'hate speech'

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani expressed frustration over the fact that colleges lack “legally permissible tools” to crack down on “hate speech.”

The NDSU president announced a “crisis response team” to fight "hate speech" on campus.

North Dakota State University’s president lamented the lack of “legally permissible tools” to crack down on “hate speech.”

In early December, several North Dakota State University students participated in a Snapchat group that utilized racial slurs and racial epithets, according to Valley News Live. In response, NDSU President Dean Bresciani issued a campus update condemning the use of “hate speech.”

“I am deeply appalled by the conduct of any students who engage in hate speech,” wrote Bresciani. “To all people of color who are members of our community, please know that I am ashamed that hate speech exists on our campus.”

[RELATED: College Republicans defend student council member who stood up to speech police]

However, Bresciani expressed the “frustrating” reality that “colleges have so few legally permissible tools” to address hate speech incidents, “because federal courts have established that hate speech is protected speech.”

Nevertheless, Bresciani declared that “doing nothing is not an option.” 

He announced that he would establish a “crisis response team” that would meet to “determine what immediate steps can be taken to improve the climate and safety of campus.”

“In such circumstances, we will respond as thoroughly and aggressively as possible,” he added. “We will continue to work together to dismantle systemic racism piece by piece, day by day.”

[RELATED: U Iowa threatens probation for student who criticized Critical Race Theory, backtracks amid lawmaker’s involvement]

Kimberly Herrmann, general counsel for the Southeastern Legal Foundation, told Campus Reform that “despite popular belief, hate speech and offensive speech is fully protected by the First Amendment.”


“Any attempt by North Dakota State to silence students’ speech because it subjectively deems it hateful or offensive is flatly unconstitutional,” Herrmann added. “Students should be extremely concerned that Dean Bresciani wants to silence them. And if he does try, SLF stands ready to defend them.”


Campus Reform reached out to North Dakota State University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

The NDSU president’s email came around the same time that Campus Reform asked students at another university if they would support a national “hate speech” law. Students, however, were unable to define what exactly constitutes “hate speech.” 

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