Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Improve Augie’s free speech rules

The first amendment forbids Congress from encroaching on the free expression of Americans. To deny this speech is to deny the fundamental identity that makes America’s brand of freedom so sought out. Without it, we are no better than the most oppressive societies.
And while Augustana College’s “free speech policy” is fairly basic and nuanced, the idea of a “free speech policy” is ironic and contradictory.
Almost as contradictory is the idea of a liberal arts college minimalizing the freedom to argue. The main point of a liberal arts school is to introduce various viewpoints to the “adult” students and allow them to converse and argue peaceably.
This is certainly not the case with Augie. Due to the chalking and the recent debates of college campus free speech, Bahls and Dehnel defended Augustana’s new free speech policy, which dictates “free speech zones” on the pavement.
Bahls also spoke about the concept of being a private institution and not having to abide to the constitutional requirements of the first amendment. “Private insitution” is defined as a college that privately funds itself and therefore has some immunity to government oversight, and remains a separate entity with freedom of association, allows the college the right to decide who to include and exclude.
This is a terrifying concept; colleges should not be able to limit the rights of their students, real human beings, based on their private funding.
While institutions should have some right to being removed from the federal and state funding, that should not remove them from the obligation to grant their students with the right to express themselves.
Augustana has certainly not been a major enemy in the battle for free speech, let me make that clear. I’m very impressed with President Bahls’ honesty during the open forum. Yet, the idea that a college can dictate which laws applies to itself and to its residents is frightening in the least. While this may seem like a trivial issue, the removal of the first amendment from college campuses is the first step to the decline of the free world.
Regimes have begun and citizens have been oppressed due to the destruction of free speech. It’s a vital component to this country that we call home. The only way for this to happen is through the advocacy of this issue by our college students today and in the near future.

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Improve Augie’s free speech rules