The editorial board of the University of North Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, has published a strong editorial today in defense of freedom of expression on campus. Writing in response to UNC President Erskine Bowles and the UNC Study Commission to Review Student Codes of Conduct as They Relate to Hate Crimes, the editorial board urges that any forthcoming hate crime policy not infringe upon the First Amendment rights of UNC students. The editorial references letters written to the Study Commission by FIRE and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation and argues:
A consistent policy for hate crimes on UNC-system campuses is certainly reasonable.
But exercising free speech on campus — however vile — should never be considered "inappropriate student behavior."
And Mr. Bowles should bear this in mind moving forward. Students deserve a clear, unambiguous policy to ensure their free speech rights are protected.
We at FIRE couldn’t agree more, and we applaud the editors of The Daily Tar Heel for taking a stand on behalf of free expression—even when doing so is unpopular or inconvenient.