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@EdWorkforce Unveils Alarming Report on Free Speech in Postsecondary Education

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2023
WASHINGTON – Today, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) unveiled a new and detailed accounting of the pervasive degradation of First Amendment rights on college campuses across the nation. This hostile takeover of postsecondary education by political activists, woke faculty, and partisan administrators has established a dangerous trend that threatens students’ constitutionally guaranteed rights and the college education model that should, at its very core, be an open marketplace for all ideas to be heard, free of political bias and agendas.

“Unprecedented attempts to chill the exercising of free speech in postsecondary education have reached an all-time crescendo—the plague of illiberalism has taken root. While headway has been made within the states to enact sensible public policy to preserve the First Amendment rights of students and faculty, more must be done to fend off the corrosive ideology that is cancel culture,” said Chairwoman Foxx.“This report offers sensible solutions that can right the ship before it’s too late. Contrary to the despotic mantras of colleges and universities that bend at the knee to woke mobs, free expression and thought are not societal ills—and they never will be.”

Below is a top line summary of the Freedom of Speech and Its Protection on College Campuses report:
  • Why Free Speech is Critical to the Goals of Postsecondary Education. Whether enrolled in a liberal arts college or in medical school, students will present arguments, hear rebuttals, and examine different viewpoints as they seek, discover, and explore the best ideas their peers and the world have to offer.
  • The Legal and Moral Responsibility of Universities to Free Speech. The Supreme Court has long established that “state colleges and universities are not enclaves immune from the sweep of the First Amendment.” Modeling the art of disagreement, persuasion, and resolution produces better students and citizens than does the coerced conformity of a campus community.
  • Modern Challenges to Freedom of Speech. Attacks on free speech, such as shout downs, political litmus tests, and censorship through bias response teams, can come from other students, faculty, or the university leadership itself. These attacks from inside the Ivory Tower are having profound effects on the minds of today’s college students who will be responsible for the future of this country.
  • What Has Been Done and Why it is Not Enough. Twenty-three states have enacted legislation to enforce the First Amendment on college campuses. However, some proposals fail to include strong enforcement mechanisms to ensure universities are effectively protecting the constitutional rights of their students and faculty.
  • Potential Legislative Considerations. House Republicans have offered various proposals to further protect expressive rights on college campuses, such as Rep. Greg Murphy's (R-NC) Campus Free Speech Restoration Act and Rep. Elise Stefanik's (R-NY) Restoring Academic Freedom on Campus Act
  • Enforcement Mechanisms. Lawmakers must consider how to use the government’s power appropriately to protect free speech while not infringing on other rights or enlarging already bloated bureaucracies.

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