In an email to students taking her “Love and Sex” course (Gender & Women’s Studies 1102), Professor Jalessah Jackson informed students that this evening’s class would have a different “format and meeting space.”
“KSU Young Americans for Freedom will be hosting a transphobic [sic] today, Monday, Oct 21 called ‘Men are not Women’ with Michael Knowles, who has been known for his racist and transphobic comments,” writes Professor Jackson.
“As a class, we will be coming out to support trans students at KSU. We want to communicate to the campus and broader community that transgender people have advocates on campus who support them and their right to exist. Although the event is 4-7pm, you will all be expected to be present during class time 5:00-6:15pm. However, feel free to come early and stay the entire time.”
Although she signed her email “warmly,” this attempt to require students to protest Michael Knowles and prevent dissent from her own leftist beliefs is a step too far beyond First Amendment expression.
In fact, compelled speech is just as unconstitutional us censoring speech on the basis of viewpoint. The First Amendment gives students the right to say—or not to say—what they want.
We reached out to both Professor Jackson and Kennesaw State University’s communications department for comment. When asked if she was worried about the unconstitutionally of forcing students to show support, Jackson backtracked to say that “Attendance will not be taken for today’s class” and “As a result, students not in attendance will not be penalized for not attending.” The University did not respond to a voicemail or email by the time of publication.
Young America’s Foundation continues to monitor this situation at a school that’s had a rocky past when it comes to recognizing the free expression rights of conservative students in the past.