Freedom of Speech: Student Perspective

By Laura Colantonio, Trending Editor

Freedom of speech is one of our most manipulated Constitutional rights and has been increasingly important to people with the rise of mass broadcasted media and through verbal expression and discussion on the Internet. People are social in all sorts of ways on all sorts of mediums.

Especially on college campuses, freedom of speech has become a recent issue, because although students are permitted to speak as they wish, the limits in terms of how to communicate with professors, administrators, or each other is relatively undefined.

Educational institutions, like colleges, encourage that students engage in conversation with those who have opposing opinions and see the world differently. Although this is a way of turning controversy into something productive, such discussion, with intention of opening the mind up to more possibilities, also welcomes heavy debate. This can become more enraging and sometimes violent rather than the intended positive result.

An example of discussion gone violent would be after he presidential election on November 8th, announcing Donald Trump as the elected winner and President for the upcoming term. Trump may have made offensive comments in the past, but this does not mean students or people should follow this poor example by treating each other in such disrespectful ways. America has made so much progress, whether it be through accepting diversity or increasing gender equality. Although people are allowed to speak what they believe, some have used Trump’s election as an excuse to demoralize others.

Andrew Proctor, Sophomore student and Secretary of Allies Club on campus put it well by saying, “Trying to argue for sexism, racism, homophobia, or any kind of bigotry shouldn’t be tolerated.” He continues by emphasizing the importance of taking such harmful speech seriously. It is up to college campuses to make their decisions on how to manage oppressing comments, but it is important to consider that with freedom of speech comes with responsibility on the individual’s end to respect others.

Another issue in regards to freedom of speech was with Columbia University’s wrestling team. A group of wrestlers on the team engaged in private conversation over GroupMe, which consisted of vulgar texts about women, gays, and African-Americans. After discovery of these hateful messages, the team was suspended. This controversy has escalated to protests on behalf of the team. People can argue both ways by saying they had the freedom to speak in this manner over a private chat, while others may say Columbia University had the right not to support such hate within one of their teams.

Freedom of speech, although granted to citizens as a right, should be considered as a blessing and be used on college campuses to welcome new ideas, rather than to put down others.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.

Contact Laura at

laura.colantonio@student.shu.edu

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