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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Free speech must be protected even for hate groups

College campuses are the perfect place to engage in dialogue with various individuals and groups. There should never be an attempt to shut down dissenting opinions.
Texas State is no stranger to the free speech debate. From the infamous white supremacy banner hung on Alkek to the four arrests made April 2019 following a spat between students, tensions have been high regarding what kind of speech is permitted.
Several weeks ago, President Denise Trauth sent out a school-wide email welcoming everyone back to school. All was well and good with the exception of one particular quote.
“At Texas State, we are vigilant in upholding free speech, and in protecting the safety and wellbeing of our community. Racism and bigotry have no place here. I denounce white supremacy and will do everything in my power to confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination and hate,” the email stated.
The quote itself is hypocritical. It is nearly impossible to uphold the First Amendment in one breath and denounce an entire group of dissenting opinions a few sentences later.
Student Government has been called out numerous times on their more-than-inequitable rulings in regards to dissenting political ideologies such as banning Turning Point USA.
The situation became an even bigger egg-on-face public relations nightmare once Gov. Gregg Abbot weighed in on the Turning Point USA issue. Abbott’s scalding remarks on Twitter then prompted the quick outpouring of support for the First Amendment and the above statement from Trauth.
This back-and-forth is increasingly problematic when reading the Office of Equity and Inclusion’s webpage, which is comprised of multiple statements about the Prohibition of Discrimination policy. The specifics get muddy when it comes down to reading the terms and conditions outlined in the Texas State University System policies and Internal University policies. Statements like recklessly (annoy) or alarm the recipient;” or incite a breach of peace” are vague at best.
If interpreted to ban hateful groups, this is unconstitutional on both state and federal levels. The arguably most famous part of the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”
Hate speech is protected under the Constitution and Texas legislatures have made very clear free speech is to be protected on college campuses specifically. Senate Bill 18 went into effect Sept. 1 and, “requires universities to allow any person to engage in free speech activities on campus.”
It is a harder goal to work toward a world where homophobes and gay people, racists and people of color, hateful people and those they hate can coexist with dissenting opinions.
Too often conservative speakers and groups like TPUSA are labeled as hate groups when in reality, they just reflect a different world view from select students and orginizations on campus.
Students can learn what it means to disagree and observe racism and bigotry in not just fellow students, but those outside of campus from an academic point of view. Individuals never get to ask hard questions and challenge beliefs if ideological-based groups are forced underground.
Exposure to ideas outside of our own can and will be hard. Managing justified backlash is a major hurdle. It is going to be hard on the university police to maintain control when tempers are tested. It is going to be even harder for the president of the university, the board of regents and the dean of students to manage difficult questions and to clearly define lines not to be crossed.
There are always going to be racist, homophobic, misogynistic and hateful people in the world because there will always be stupidity and ignorance. In the thousands of years humanity has evolved, people have not stopped hate.
By suppressing those presenting troubling or alarming views, university administration is telling students they are not smart enough to know what is right or wrong. It is undemocratic at best, and tyrannical at its worst. The university system can do better. It needs to do better.
The future of America depends on society learning to fundamentally disagree.

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