CFN Member Sounds the Alarm Against His School’s Illiberal Policies

October 23, 2008

The Lehigh Patriot, a student newspaper at Lehigh University, recently published an editorial by CFN Member Anthony Bisconti. Anthony, who also serves as the paper’s editor-in-chief, wrote the article about the state of free speech at Lehigh. He discusses the various policies that led FIRE to designate Lehigh as a “red-light school” and states that “instead of encouraging healthy debate, these policies deter students and professors alike from engaging in discussion and challenging the status quo.”

Anthony also invokes the recent DeJohn decision in the Third Circuit to demonstrate that “speech codes similar to Lehigh’s could not exist at a public university.” As Anthony quite correctly understands, “Raising questions, challenging the norm, and developing a greater sense of understanding are not only innately harmless, but should be the basis for higher education and societal maturation.”

Pressing the issue further, Anthony points out that schools which seek to make certain topics off-limits contradict their obligations to develop the minds of their students. Instead, colleges merely shirk their responsibilities of being, as the Supreme Court has described them, “peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas.'” Meaningful learning often depends on truly unfettered discourse.

Anthony ends the article with a call to action to his fellow community members. “Perhaps,” he states, “it is time that the administration takes a second look at the true implications of these policies, and questions whether they fully embody the principles of academic freedom that the university has a responsibility to uphold.”

The CFN is proud to count Anthony among our ranks, and we look forward to great things from him in the future. If you are a college student or faculty member interested in promoting liberty on campus, I strongly encourage you to consider joining the Campus Freedom Network.