On March 4, Middlebury College’s Student Government Association (SGA) proposed a resolution that would effectively limit the types of speech and speakers invited to campus. The resolution, introduced by Senator Hannah Pustejovsky, was written in response to Dr. Charles Murray’s event at the Vermont-based liberal arts college that resulted in leftist students rioting and committing battery against a professor.
Samantha Harris of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) shared part of the resolution on Twitter.
— Samantha Harris (@SamatFIRE) March 6, 2017
The resolution suggested that all academic departments and students should “respect the boundaries of the College’s community standards.” The standards read as follows:
Middlebury seeks to prepare students to be active citizens and leaders who will address the world’s most pressing problems. This mission is advanced through students’ experiences with successes and challenges, and is reflected in the following Community Standards:
- cultivating respect and responsibility for self, others, and our shared environment;
- encouraging personal and intellectual courage and growth;
- manifesting integrity and honesty in all decisions and actions;
- promoting healthy, safe and balanced lifestyles;
- fostering a diverse and inclusive community committed to civility, open-mindedness and finding common ground.
Therefore, a balance of individual and community health and growth guides Middlebury’s approach to all endeavors, and to the policies that support those endeavors.
In other words, Pustejovsky’s bill would call upon various bodies at Middlebury to bar speech that may not “cultivate respect and responsibility” or “foster a diverse and inclusive community.” In the minutes of the meeting, the Secretary suggested that Pustejovsky stated that the SGA was “complicit with [a] white supremacist” due to SGA’s supposed approval of the Murray talk and that his presence on campus “violated Community Standards.” She also argued that “hate speech is not free speech,” which is categorically false.
While discussion on Pustejovsky’s bill was tabled, it should be alarming that Middlebury’s student government is proactively attempting to leverage what kind of speech is acceptable on campus. Arguing what violates the Community Standards is in the eyes of the beholder. Nevertheless, the campus Left would argue that non-progressives like Murray, Ben Shapiro, or Dave Rubin would not be acceptable on campus because their views might not “foster a diverse and inclusive community.”
This kind of suppression on free speech remains cancerous on college campuses and it fails to teach students about the First Amendment.