One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out
October 9th, 2017 – The University of Wisconsin System has approved a new policy designed to punish students found to have denied the free speech rights of others on campus. Per the Associated Press, the institution’s Board of Regents approved a new rule that states any student determined to have “twice engaged in violence or other disorderly conduct that disrupts others’ free speech would be suspended.” A third violation of this policy would result in expulsion from the school. The U of W system president, Ray Cross, justified the policy change telling board members:
“Perhaps the most important thing we can do as a university is to teach students how to engage and listen to those with whom they differ… Without civil discourse and a willingness to listen and engage with different voices, all we are doing is reinforcing our existing values.”
The new student conduct policy comes at a time when the free speech debate has reignited on college campuses across the country. Charging “political correctness” run amok, conservatives have complained of liberal bias at institutions of higher learning and alleged that conservative ideas are not given an equal platform. Noted, far-right gadfly, Milos Yiannopolous, had a speaking engagement at the University of California- Berkeley cancelled after vocal protests devolved into bedlam. In 2016, former Breitbart columnist and right-wing talking head, Ben Shapiro was shouted down from the rostrum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In response to the anti-protest policy at University of Wisconsin, Rep. Chris Taylor, the Democratic representative whose district includes the school’s flagship Madison campus countered:
“Who’s going to show up to a protest if they think they could be potentially expelled?”
While the specific details of how the policy will be implemented must undergo a lengthy reconciliation process by administration officials and lawmakers, some see the move as a conservative crackdown on constitutionally protected speech.
Hey, civil libertarians: The U of Wisconsin just passed a policy that says students can be expelled for heckling. https://t.co/allE5b0W2U
— BrideOfJohnstonstein (@studentactivism) October 7, 2017
Critics are concerned as Wisconsin’s far-right leaning governor, Scott Walker, appointed the majority of the board of regents and will oversee legislative approval of the resolution.