Changing Campus ‘Civility’ Policies: Q&A with Caitlin Grimes

June 11, 2015

Caitlin Grimes is a graduate of Marshall University in West Virginia, where she worked to reform the school’s speech codes.

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Like many universities, Marshall maintains policies that sacrifice free speech in the name of “civility.” Its policies on harassment and intolerance contain language so vague that nearly everyone on campus could be found guilty of an infraction.

Caitlin worked with administrators behind the scenes and helped to cultivate a culture of free speech in the student body. While dealing with bureaucracy was a challenge, she said that fighting for free speech has its rewards as well. “The most exciting thing about challenging the policies is definitely to see other students’ passion for it. When we hosted the free speech wall, people came up and said, ‘I feel like I couldn’t have said this if this wasn’t here.’”

Her advice to other students? “Let it be known that you’re a champion of free speech on campus so people come to you when [rights violations] happen.”

Learn how you can do just that at the 2015 FIRE Student Network Conference, which will be held on July 24–26 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The conference is free to attend and includes meals and lodging as well as reimbursement of up to $300 for travel. Applications are due on July 3 and space is limited, so get yours in today!

Schools:  Marshall University