This past Thursday, we praised the University of Virginia (UVa) for eliminating the last of its unconstitutional speech code policies, earning it a coveted spot on our list of 13 "green light" schools. We noted that UVa joins its fellow Virginia public institution The College of William & Mary on this list—and that we’re now focusing our attention on the three other Virginia public universities that are not yet green-lighted, including James Madison University (JMU).
JMU’s student newspaper, catching wind of this effort, writes about it in today’s edition of The Breeze, highlighting the policies that keep the institution at its "yellow light" rating:
Our own university is rated yellow by FIRE, indicating that some of our policies are potential threats to free speech. These flagged policies include limiting speech that can be "reasonably anticipated to provoke a violent reaction," the required registration of peaceful assemblies with the Madison Union scheduling 48 hours in advance, the banning of posters that mention or represent drugs or alcohol, and the requirement that all posters be in good taste.
We’re glad that JMU students recognize these policies as potential threats to free speech on campus and are drawing attention to them in today’s paper. The editorial notes that "it isn’t difficult to imagine how these vaguely worded policies could easily be applied to almost any form of speech that the administration deems unfavorable." We couldn’t agree more, and we look forward to seeing the JMU administration join us in revising the policies.
The Breeze expresses a similar sentiment:
In the past, the administration has seemed happy to ignore these rules, disregarding the situations that could fall under a policy if construed correctly. What, though, will happen when the current administration inevitably turns over? How will these rules be applied then? Better to remove or reform the policies to make them immune to abuse to make JMU a green-rated school.
Once these policies are dropped, JMU can truly serve as the open and inviting marketplace of ideas that college campuses are supposed to be. JMU has revised one speech code already, and we’d love to see JMU go all the way to green soon.