“a clear and substantial restriction on constitutionally protected expression”
How exactly does the school expect to enforce this policy? And who decides what is considered harsh?
The College Fix reports:
Public university prohibits ‘harsh text messages’
As part of its code of conduct, a public university in Alabama prohibits its students from sending “harsh text messages,” a policy that has earned it the worst possible rating from a campus free-speech watchdog group.
The University of West Alabama’s Cyberbullying and Cyber Harassment Policy defines harassment as “conduct that disrupts the educational environment of the university.” Conduct that the university has defined as harassment includes “harsh text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.”
The policy provides several examples of “instances where social media can cause harm to the university or member of the UWA community,” though none of the examples includes “harsh text messages” or “rumors.”
The College Fix reached out repeatedly to university officials to learn more about the policy, including whether any students had ever been sanctioned by the school for sending a harsh text message. The school’s public relations department did not respond to several requests for comment; nor did its Vice President of Student Affairs Richard Hester.
Robert Upchurch, listed as a contact in the school’s Cyber Harassment Policy, also did not respond to a request for comment from The Fix.
The school’s speech policy garnered the lowest possible rating from the campus civil rights advocacy group the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
“The University of West Alabama’s ‘Cyberbullying and Cyber Harassment Policy Statement’ earns FIRE’s worst ‘red light’ rating because it is a clear and substantial restriction on constitutionally protected expression,” Laura Beltz, a policy reform program operator at FIRE, said in a statement.
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