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Davidson College About to Become First Private College in NC to Adopt Free Expression Statement

Davidson College About to Become First Private College in NC to Adopt Free Expression Statement

“For nearly a decade, North Carolina’s universities have led the way on free speech by ending their unconstitutional speech codes and speaking out in favor of freedom of thought and inquiry”

This is great news, but this should be the rule not the exception. All colleges should be doing this.

From the FIRE blog:

Davidson poised to become first private college in North Carolina to adopt free expression statement

Davidson College is on the cusp of becoming the first private college in North Carolina to adopt a version of the Chicago Statement — the modern “gold standard” of commitments to free expression on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal applaud President Carol Quillen’s commitment to an intellectually free and open campus, and urge Davidson’s board of trustees to endorse and adopt this statement in its entirety.

“Binding statements that commit colleges to protecting fundamental rights are a crucial part of having a campus culture of free expression and inquiry,” stated Robert Shibley, FIRE’s executive director. “Students and faculty are more likely to engage in open and honest dialogue when their institution publicly makes these commitments. Davidson should be the next elite institution to clearly guarantee the free and open exchange of ideas.”

In October, Quillen called on professors, current students, a board member, and former North Carolina Gov. James G. Martin to draft the Davidson Commitment to Free Expression. Based on the University of Chicago’s statement protecting free expression on campus, versions of which have been adopted by more than 80 colleges from Princeton to Arizona, as well as by North Carolina’s own Winston-Salem State, UNC-Chapel Hill, and others, Davidson’s statement promises the college will “promote the lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation and will also protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”

“For nearly a decade, North Carolina’s universities have led the way on free speech by ending their unconstitutional speech codes and speaking out in favor of freedom of thought and inquiry,” said Jenna Robinson, President of the Martin Center. “Davidson’s new statement in support of free expression will continue that trend. There’s still a long way to go, but this is an important step in the right direction.”

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Comments

Binding statements that commit colleges to protecting fundamental rights

Can someone familiar with this domain explain how this kind of statement is legally binding? Is it considered part of the contract with the student? Does it fall under false advertising law? I’m at a loss to understand how a feel-good statement about free expression becomes actionable.

“First Private College in NC to Adopt Free Expression Statement”

This reminds me of the story of the protestor who was told he could protest, but only in a “designated free-speech zone.” He replied, “This is America, buddy — the whole damn country is a designated free-speech zone.”

Because when I look at this statement, what I see is, “first college to adopt free speech policies that pretty much all colleges everywhere honored before they started going nuts about 25 years ago.”

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