Freedom of Speech on College Campus under Fire

Unfortunately it has been under fire from the college,; Binghamton University.

Binghamton University’s Department of Social Work ordered the suspension of a master’s student for one year with no guarantee of return, required him to apologize, and demanded that he publicly disavow his own views after he put up posters challenging the department for having hired the executive director of the Binghamton Housing Authority (BHA)—an agency the student thought was responsible for social injustice.

Massena chose anonymity after hearing stories from other students in the department about students being unjustly “advanced” (expelled) from the program. When interrogated about the posters, Massena exercised his right to anonymous speech by declining to acknowledge authorship—a decision ultimately cited as the official reason for Massena’s punishment.

One week later, Massena received a “Written Plan” from his department. It failed to specify any alleged violations, but nevertheless assigned him shockingly onerous and unconstitutional requirements to complete in order to continue his master’s program. Massena was required to leave the university for two semesters, with his return contingent on “departmental approval.” He also was required to present a formal statement to university and governmental officials retracting his opinions, to submit formal apologies to a pre-approved list of people as evaluated by Professors Laura Bronstein and Diane Wiener, and to complete a critical reflection paper of ten to twelve pages on the topic of ethics in social work.

We must not allow freedom of speech to be vanquished from the halls of academia.  If it is not protected there, it will be protected nowhere.

As of today, though, the university “has abandoned its attempt to suspend or expel a student who put up posters challenging the Department of Social Work.”  

Good.

I am not sure how he will be able to finish graduate school with such a climate of hostility as I suspect now exists around him, but I hope that he is able to.

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