Last week, a student at the University of South Carolina (USC) was ostracized from her fellow classmates after she posted an article on a Facebook page for the incoming class of 2020. The article championed free speech and opposed her campus’ so-called “free speech zones.” After receiving a barrage of hateful comments, the post was deleted by a page administrator and the author of the article was then blocked from the page.
The article was later reposted by another student. A screenshot of the comments was taken before the article was again deleted by an administrator of the Facebook page.
This is yet another example of an all-too-common occurrence at our nation’s colleges and universities.
Fortunately, the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at the University of South Carolina is facing the issue head-on. On top of their work to raise awareness of the incident on their own digital outlets, USC YAF is organizing a week of activism initiatives to educate their peers on the importance of free speech and to advocate for the dissolution of USC’s “free speech zones.” In typical YAF style, the chapter is planning to carry out their activism outside of the areas the school is attempting to limit First Amendment activities to.
The article that the USC student shared, then taken down by the administrator, can be found below:
I’ll start off by saying the University of South Carolina has been one of the greatest parts of my life, if not the best. However, I have noticed that my school leans left, and despite being in the south, no one seems to care. That’s the worst part. Someone must care, or before we know it our free speech zones will be by a dumpster behind Swearingen. I won’t let this happen, and if you attend South Carolina, or another university with free speech zones, I hope you won’t either.
The First Amendment clearly states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Therefore, when your college RESTRICTS free speech on campus, it is unconstitutional! They literally cannot do that. Not only is it unconstitutional, but this allows the university to control what you can say and where you can say it. Last time I checked, this is America and I can speak out on my beliefs whether people agree with them or not!
The University of South Carolina has it a lot better than a lot of other universities. Some colleges put kids who want to promote their ideas into a taped off area on campus that people don’t ever go to! This is ridiculous and unconstitutional. This can be fought against, but you must do something about it. It’s not a huge fight that will turn ugly; it’s having a free speech rally outside of free speech zones. Or even get someone like Casey Mattox (google him) to write your school a few pages on why what they’re doing is wrong, and if they don’t change it they could be sued.
Even though the University of South Carolina doesn’t have it as bad as other universities, it doesn’t change that it is unconstitutional and against your first amendment right.
College is a marketplace of ideas. Young adults from ages 18-22 are most likely to make their mind up about politics and which side they stand on by the time they leave college, and stand firm in those beliefs the rest of their life. Therefore, for people like me who want to spread conservative values and educate people on small government, religious liberty and free-market economics, a free speech zone LIMITS what I can do on campus. This doesn’t only affect conservatives, though. If you are a liberal, your free speech is abridged too. This IS an issue.
Free speech zones are the beginning of a very, very bad road to travel down. What’s next? Is the university going to limit what we can say? Are people going to be kicked out of school for telling people about their religion or political beliefs? This is bad, and no one should want this in our universities. It is important to have free speech. It’s our right, and it cannot and will not be taken from us if we fight back!
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -George Orwell
— Hannah Roberts
** This work was originally published on The Odyssey Online
Editors Note: This post was updated to reflect that the posts were removed by an administrator of the Class of 2020 Facebook page.