University of Texas at San Antonio: Student Protestors Report Being Restricted from Using Certain Words, Phrases, and Languages


University of Texas at San Antonio

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Case Overview

On April 24, 2024, University of Texas at San Antonio student protestors reported that an administrator warned them that using “terms such as ‘Zionism’ and ‘Israel’” and chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” were prohibited as “antisemitic hate speech.” The protestors also reported that the administrator said they could not chant in Arabic. A UTSA spokesperson denied that specific words were banned, but held fast that antisemitic expression is not tolerated. FIRE wrote UTSA on April 29, reminding it speech perceived as hateful—antisemitic or otherwise—is protected given there is no categorical First Amendment exception for hate speech, and that public universities may not restrict disfavored phrases, words, and languages based simply on subjective offense. We also requested public records from USTA for documentation and communications related to the April 24 demonstration and, after not receiving a response to our letter, sent a follow up on May 14.