“All members of the University have a responsibility to promote and a right to expect … an environment that is free of harassment and free of insulting and demeaning comments”
How does one enforce such a vague policy? Who decides what qualifies as demeaning?
The College Fix reports:
Public university’s speech policy bans ‘demeaning’ comments
A campus watchdog group recently sounded the alarm on a sweeping policy at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh that states its students have a right not to be subjected to any official speech codes—yet bans them from making “insulting” or “demeaning” comments.
According to the UW Oshkosh policy, “All members of the University have a responsibility to promote and a right to expect … an environment that is free of harassment and free of insulting and demeaning comments and epithets based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, military status, socioeconomic status, family status, or political views; and consistent enforcement of federal, state, and university protections against discriminatory treatment yet is free from any official speech codes.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonpartisan campus rights group, has assigned the policy its worst possible “red light” rating. The group also chose the policy as its May 2021 Speech Code of the Month.
FIRE spokesperson Katie Kortepeter told The College Fix in an email that “Each month, we highlight one college or university policy that chills student expression as its Speech Code of the Month. This month’s dubious honor goes to UW Oshkosh for a contradictory policy that polices student speech, while claiming to not be a speech code.”
In naming UW Oshkosh as the group’s Speech Code of the Month recipient for May, Laura Beltz, senior program officer at FIRE, noted “It’s not rare for colleges to contradict themselves on free speech, making sweeping declarations of free speech rights to their students while simultaneously maintaining policies that infringe on those rights. It is rare for a school to make this contradiction in a single sentence, but the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh does just that.”
While the policy is housed under UW Oshkosh’s faculty handbook, Beltz told The College Fix in a phone interview that the policy clearly states it applies to all members of the university, including students.
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