Last year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education contacted N.C. State University to inform them their civility policy was in violation of the First Amendment.
Relenting, N.C. State made the policy voluntary earlier this month. N.C. State is not the only school in violation; policies at UNC might also restrict free speech.
The University, having received a red rating from the foundation, the lowest possible, must react and adjust the policies so they are not a violation of the First Amendment.
While correcting the polices, the University must find a balance which ensures that the safety of students remains a priority, without infringing on their constitutional rights.
Like N.C. State, our civility policy is also in violation of the First Amendment. The violation is found in the Community Living Standards: Rights and Responsibilities, which, in addition to UNC’s overall rank, received a red rating.
As of right now, a single inappropriate or offensive joke could land you in hot water with your housing community and in violation of your contract.
But who is to say what is inappropriate and what is offensive? The policy places judgment with the most easily offended person on campus.
UNC’s civility policy’s rating was noted in January, and the policy was updated the next month, making no changes to the statements in violation.
Now, University officials will be reviewing the recommendations that the foundation has passed onto the school.
We understand balancing safety and freedom of speech is difficult. But we must find an equilibrium that will not encroach on free speech.
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