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U. of West Florida has ‘Vague’ Definition of What is Considered ‘Harmful’ Speech

U. of West Florida has ‘Vague’ Definition of What is Considered ‘Harmful’ Speech

“any person’s subjective view of what is harmful and intolerable or offensive can be punished by the administration.”

The University of West Florida has not changed its Student Code of Conduct. We just now realize that it’s definition of “harmful” language could cause free speech issues.

From Campus Reform:

According to the Code, harm punishable by the university can include “[c]onduct that creates an intimidating, intolerable, or offensive campus, educational or working environment for another person, unrelated to the victim’s protected class, if any.”

Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) raised concerns regarding UWF’s Code of Conduct in April of 2021. The university’s regulations have not been changed.

FIRE’s Director of Policy Reform, Laura Beltz, recently told Campus Reform that the effect of UWF’s policy is that “any person’s subjective view of what is harmful and intolerable or offensive can be punished by the administration.”

“That means that if a particularly sensitive person thinks an offensive joke was harmful, the person who made the joke could be punished,” Beltz continued.

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Comments

JackinSilverSpring | August 22, 2022 at 10:16 am

How about a diaper and pacifier for such overly sensitive people? They have been infantilized, and should be treated as such. Meanwhile, the rest of us must not be cowed by these immature babies and must not be silenced. This is an excellent instance where Gov. DeSantis needs to intervene because I think this is a state university. Finally, I am sure someone will label as liberal the administrators who want to implement this policy. How is the stifling of free speech in any way shape or form, liberal?

Sounds easily solved. Conservative students should get “offended” at any liberal pap they hear and report it. Swamp ’em.

I see nothing in the quoted paragraph to indicate that the test is how the complainant feels about it. It says conduct that “creates” such an environment, which to me sounds like the university must make an independent determination that it actually did so. If FIRE thinks otherwise, then how does it think that clause should have been phrased instead? Surely it doesn’t think conduct that actually does create an objectively intimidating, intolerable, or offensive environment should be allowed. No workplace would ever do so.