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Donald Trump

“Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation.” (Courtesy of Ninian Reid via Flickr Creative Commons)

Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation, leading to classes being called off, students walking out of their classes in protest and colleges creating more safe spaces. Fortunately, College of Charleston did not follow the trend of coddling students or intolerance towards differing views. Despite that the college would be rated by FIRE as “red light” based on their policy review, which means the school has at least one policy that is not in line with the First Amendment, the College maintained itself as a place of higher learning, where students freely exchange their ideas regardless of how controversial they may be.

No incidents of suppressed speech took place on campus until November 15th, when Glenn F. McConnell, the President of the College, emailed students and faculty members reminding them that in the aftermath of the elections, “it is our duty as Americans and members of the College of Charleston to treat each other with kindness and empathy. No matter the political divide, we must always be tolerant of each other’s views.” However, he added, “Hateful speech and actions will not be tolerated at the College.” The issue here is how vague the term “hateful speech” is, since it holds a subjective meaning. Further, much of what people consider “hateful speech” is generally protected.

FIRE

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a non-profit group founded in 1999 that focuses on civil liberties in academia in the United States. (Courtesy of FIRE)

Public universities, which includes the College of Charleston, must abide by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech that includes, “certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages, according to Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971). For example, messages like “Trump 2016″ that were written in chalk on Emory University’s campus were viewed as “hateful speech” by some students, but regardless of how they feel about it, the chalk message is protected under the First Amendment. Universities should only intervene when speech is a form of harassment, or “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.”

"The College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums." (Courtesy of Mogollon via Flickr Creative Commons)

“The College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums.” (Courtesy of Mogollon via Flickr Creative Commons)

Although I commend President McConnell for reminding students “to treat each other with kindness and empathy” and “always be tolerant of each other’s views,” he had it wrong when he said “hateful speech” should not be tolerated, especially when the term is too broad and can easily label an expression that is not “hateful” in nature. To advance free speech on campus, we must embrace all ideas and viewpoints, even those that are controversial. It is the diversity in thought that will mold students to become mature intellectuals that are well prepared for the real world after graduation.

Even at the height of the political unrest that stems from the elections, the College has always maintained a culture that invites ideas from all spectrums and allows students to engage in free expression through classroom discussions and civil discourse with fellow peers. Let us replace our notion of “hateful speech,” which is too subjective and broad, with a principled commitment to “freedom of expression.”


This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page

The Syrian refugee crisis is often considered the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II and, with migration this large, the European Union has had to quickly find solutions to handle a dislocation of 6.6 million people in a short amount of time.

image00The United Nations has pled for countries around the world to accept refugees to expedite this issue. But, as of November 2015, the United States had admitted only 1,854 Syrian refugees, few of which settled in South Carolina. Despite the voluntary assistance efforts made by a few, closing off borders is a popular view that recently found itself expressed in a bill passed by South Carolina’s state Senate which set limits for refugees coming into the state.

With Students For Liberty’s #ShareHumanity grant, STRIVE of College of Charleston worked to combat these oppressive thoughts in South Carolina by inviting Dr. Michael Huemer from the University of Colorado – Boulder to Skype in and argue for free migration at STRIVE’s “Open Borders and Refugee Acceptance” event.

It attracted students of varying knowledge and interest in politics, and they came away knowing more about refugees’ and immigrants’ right to migrate and the positive results that immigrants have on the economy. Events like these help to increase awareness and debunk unpleasant myths people have about refugees and immigrants, and STRIVE of College of Charleston – with the help of Students For Liberty – continues to promote limited government and economic freedom by carrying out such political activism on campus.

 Students For Liberty’s Student Disorientation grant program helped campus groups start the semester off right. The following was written by Natalie Bao Tram Le, a Campus Coordinator at the College of Charleston about the recruitment drive there. The back-to-school grant program has ended, but you can now apply to receive $100 towards Constitution Day events through SFL’s Constitution Day Activism Grant program! 

One club at the College of Charleston took a different approach to tabling by posing a question that puzzled many students… Who Is John Galt?

The Objectivist SocietyCollege of Charleston 1 began the semester off by recruiting new students at the College of Charleston’s Student Organization Fair and sparked much interest amongst them. Since the Objectivist Society was recently brought back from hiatus and was unheard of to many, something is needed to catch their attention.

“Who Is John Galt?” – a fitting slogan for an Objectivist-oriented club – is visible on the banner and has proven to be effective at catching students’ gaze. Hilariously, more than once they thought the banner said “Who Is John Cena?” – an American professional wrestler, which opened the opportunity for the Objectivist Society to engage with the students and tell them what the club is really about. Unfortunately, John Cena is non-existent in the study of Objectivism, but we certainly promote the pursuit of one’s interests, as John Cena has done in the world of wrestling! (more…)