If you go to Marquette, be sure not to cause anyone emotional discomfort.

Samantha Harris of the FIRE blog reports.

Speech Code of the Month: Marquette University

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for March 2015: Marquette University.

If you’ve been following higher ed news or reading The Torch recently, you are probably aware that Marquette University is no friend of free speech. In fact, FIRE recently named Marquette one of the ten worst abusers of free speech for its “chilling campaign to revoke the tenure of political science professor John McAdams due to writings on his private blog.”

It may not surprise you to learn, therefore, that Marquette also maintains highly restrictive speech codes. While Marquette’s policies impermissibly restrict a variety of student speech, the university’s Harassment Policy stands out in particular. According to that policy:

Harassment is defined as verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a person or a group based on color, race, national origin, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation where the offensive behavior is intimidating, hostile or demeaning, or which could or does result in mental, emotional or physical discomfort, embarrassment, ridicule or harm.

How on earth are students expected to discuss anything remotely controversial when they can be charged with harassment for causing another person “emotional discomfort”? Almost any discussion of a difficult or sensitive issue inevitably causes someone some discomfort. The specific conversations that make one uncomfortable obviously vary by person, but each of us has our own identity and history that make certain conversations difficult to hear.