- A RELIGIOUS FOUNDATION AND EXPRESSIVE ASSOCIATION RIGHTS
- DEFERRED RUSH AT COLORADO?
- IS THERE STILL SPEECH FREEDOM?
- LATINO-GREEKS ARRIVE
- EDUCATIONAL GRANTS FROM FOUNDATION TO FRATERNITY
- HAZARDS OF DECORATIVE PARTY POOLS
- CHAPTER HOUSES AND FRATERNITY CULTURE
Newsletter > January 2005 > "IS THERE STILL SPEECH FREEDOM?"
IS THERE STILL SPEECH FREEDOM?
Robert Manley, Manley Burke
A professor at Rhode Island College, a tax supported institution in Providence, survived an institutional witch hunt. Professor Church volunteered her time as a coordinator for Rhode Island College’s Cooperative Preschool Program. While she was not at the Program, two adult participants in the Program were reported to have made comments to each other that a third adult participant considered “offensive.” After the third party reported this to Professor Church, she decided that it would be inappropriate to take any action. The comments, if made, were protected by the First Amendment right to free expression.
The third party complained to Rhode Island College and the President of the College instituted disciplinary proceedings against Professor Church.
Professor Church objected that it would have been inappropriate for her to have taken any action against adult volunteers because somebody found something they said offensive for whatever it is they said was protected by the First Amendment. She also objected to having proceedings against her for recognizing the First Amendment rights of participants in a program sponsored by a tax supported state college. Professor Church endured a brief hearing after which an associate dean and hearing officer quickly decided that “no formal action” was necessary. The fact of the matter is that bringing charges against Professor Church was punishment for her recognition of the First Amendment rights of participants in a program sponsored by a tax supported state college. This tends to chill freedom of expression and defeats the purpose of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Church case is pertinent to the life of members of Greek organizations. Frequently in the past, state college administrators have attempted to impose institutional discipline on students because someone deemed that the comments of the students were impolite or offensive. The fact of the matter is the First Amendment protects the right of people to say foolish and impolite things. Any institution that does not allow its participants to have the freedom to be foolish is moving toward an unwholesome, anti-intellectual, authoritarian institution.