Aaron Fried, columnist for Brandeis University's independent student newspaper The Justice, kicks off the fall semester with a powerful column calling for revisions to his college's speech codes. Given that his school is named after Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a champion of free speech, Fried argues that he and his fellow students should be embarrassed by Brandeis' inclusion on FIRE's list of the 12 worst colleges for free speech, published in The Huffington Post in March.
Noting that several of Brandeis' policies earn a "red light" ranking from FIRE, here's Fried's take on some of the problems presented to students wishing to speak their minds:
Unfortunately, other areas of our speech policies run contrary to these ideals, most notably, our harassment policies, which FIRE has red-lighted. These well-intended policies nominally fulfill the goal of promoting a respectful and orderly campus, where students can live without fear of being mistreated.
In reality, some of these policies are incredibly vague and, like any poorly defined set of rules, run the risk of unfair, subjective interpretation.
For example, the Handbook's definition of sexual harassment is ambiguous. One example of sexual harassment is "subtle pressure for sexual activity." Imagine ...