Shouldn’t every week be free speech week on American college campuses?

Susan Kruth of The FIRE reports.

It’s Free Speech Week, and Students Are Speaking Out

October 21­–27 is Free Speech Week, a celebration of Americans’ First Amendment right to free expression. You can celebrate by sharing information about constitutional rights with your friends, planning a free speech event, or even speaking your mind about the news of the day. Students especially should take this week to find out just how free speech is respected on their campuses and urge their classmates and administrators to make sure this fundamental right is fully protected.

In the spirit of Free Speech Week, American University (AU) student Sarah Harvard took to student newspaper The Eagle last Friday to do just that. Harvard conducted a survey of AU students that addressed their attitudes about free expression and the climate for free speech on AU’s campus. Unfortunately, she relayed some troubling results:

For those who identified as a political minority in the survey, 50 percent said they either rarely or never participate in class discussions because of the fear of being shut down or mocked for their opposing viewpoints. Along with this, 66 percent believed that restrictions of free speech in the classroom hinders the academic integrity of their curriculum. In the situations of free speech repression, 10 percent of students said they were restricted by professors, 25 percent said they were restricted by students and 30 percent said they felt restricted by both.

Harvard explains some of the dangers of an environment where students and faculty are punished for their speech or self-censor in order to avoid such punishment or retaliation:

If professors silence the voices of those who don’t agree with them, it eliminates the other side’s voice. Truth also withers when the administration puts professors into a situation of fear of repercussions for undergoing ground-breaking research or expressing their views on their specialization. Students will not have the ability to think critically about the lectures and readings of their courses due to the elimination and restriction on free speech in the classroom and academia.