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Feigning Free Speech on Campus -

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Elsewhere, rules that aim for inclusiveness do more to confuse students than to encourage debate. Earlier this year, Vanderbilt prohibited student groups (if they wished to receive university support and financing) from barring students from leadership positions based on their beliefs. The apparent goal was to prevent evangelical Christian groups from excluding gay students from leadership positions — but the policy also means that a Democrat could be elected as an officer of the College Republicans.

A 2010 study by the American Association of Colleges and Universities of 24,000 college students and 9,000 faculty and staff members found that only 35.6 percent of the students — and only 18.5 percent of the faculty and staff — strongly agreed that it was “safe to hold unpopular positions on campus.”

For reasons both good and bad — and sometimes for mere administrative convenience — colleges have promulgated speech codes that are not only absurd in their results but also detrimental to the ideals of free inquiry. Students can’t learn how to navigate democracy and engage with their fellow citizens if they are forced to think twice before they speak their mind.

It's depressingly easy to get people to give up their constitutional rights.

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