I often post critical or cautionary columns about the erosion of free speech on our college campuses. It is a pleasure to be able to raise a positive development. One such story is out of Florida State University which has removed five policies that “clearly and substantially” undermine free speech. The University of Florida has also moved to rescind such anti-free speech measures.
According to The College Fix the change involved four policies including a sex discrimination policy banning “derogatory or offensive language” and another anti-discrimination policy proscribing “offensive, demeaning, or degrading” behavior.
Those are common terms that I have repeatedly criticized in past columns. (here and here and here and here) Terms like “derogatory or offensive” beg for arbitrary and subjective applications. Notably, these rules often turn on how language is received rather than how it is intended. It also allowed the most sensitive individuals to drive the scope of speech limitations on a given campus.
This is a welcomed move by FSU (my wife’s alma mater). It places the university well ahead of one of its historic rivals, University of Miami, which earned a “red light” on free speech from FIRE, which monitors such limitations on free speech.