Kentucky Asks Students If They Like Very Little Free Speech, Or None At All
The University of Kentucky’s student government has sent a faculty-approved survey to its students asking them to choose between two restrictive free speech policies.
An email obtained by Campus Reform contained a survey on various matters of campus policy, such as sexual assault and the use of taxi cabs. One of the questions asked students their preferred type of free speech policy at the university: “A single designated speech zone in a specific location on campus” or “multiple designated speech zones in various locations across campus.” Students could also say they had “no preference,” but there was no option for them to oppose the idea of free speech zones entirely.
UK currently maintains two “Designated Unrestricted Areas” where students can express themselves without prior approval, so the survey essentially only asked students whether they’d prefer even tougher restrictions on speech.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the country’s top advocate for student civil liberties, slammed the email on its website as an affront to constitutional principles.
“The fact that the UK student government cannot even conceive of the possibility of ditching free speech zones is not an encouraging sign that UK is moving in the right direction,” said FIRE attorney Susan Kruth. “Prospective students who value free expression should consider going to… Eastern Kentucky University and Georgetown College instead.”
Those two schools both enjoy a rare “green light” rating from FIRE, indicating few restrictions on free speech, while UK has only a “yellow light” rating.
The University of Kentucky has landed in hot water for its student surveys before, with a 2014 email asking whether students viewed homosexuality as a sin and whether gay students would be straight if they could.
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