The Death of Campus Free Speech—and How to Revive It

Jul 08, 2016 |  Charles Lipson

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The Death of Campus Free Speech—and How to Revive It

Jul 08, 2016 | 

Charles Lipson

This article was originally published on June 28, 2016 by RealClearPolitics. Click here to read the full article. RCP contributor Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science, the founder and director of the Program on International Politics, Economics and Security at the University of Chicago, and an NAS member. He can be reached at

It’s getting harder to tell the difference between real news about colleges and the Onion’s parodies. Take an incident at the University of Northern Colorado. A couple of professors, eager to promote discussion in class, asked their students to read a popular magazine article, written by two free-speech advocates.

You can guess what happened next. Just mentioning “difficult topics” triggered one student’s meltdown. She complained to university administrators. Instead of telling her how real learning depends on free speech, they actually told the professors never even to mention the topic again.

This assault on free and vigorous discussion is now commonplace on campus. What can be done?

Universities Should Take These Five Steps to Protect Campus Speech


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Image: thespyglass by thespyclass // CC BY


| August 22, 2016 - 4:10 PM

(1) Intellectual courage.
(2) Tell students open debate.
(3) One ranking administrator devoted.
(4) Student affairs offices get off the wrong side.
(5) Advertise & enforce students’ free-speech rights.

I’m for that, but when snowflakes go elsewhere, and the Feds pull financial aid, who’ll make up the shortfall in prexy’s salary and perqs?