MSU blocks free speech, group says

By December 15, 2006

An independent watchdog group is demanding that Michigan State University end a program that counsels students for inappropriate remarks or actions, claiming the program violates the students’ first amendment rights.

MSU Vice President Lee June declined to comment on the accusation Thursday, saying the university is looking into the allegations.

The program, called the Students for Accountability in Community seminar, is for “students who have intimidated, harassed or abused another community member on the basis of individual characteristics like race/ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation,” according to the MSU Web site.

Students pay $50 for the four-part seminar, plus $10 for each missed session. Those who refuse to attend have a hold placed on their records, said Greg Lukianoff, president of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the non-partisan civil liberties watchdog group looking into MSU’s program.

The MSU program denies students free speech and due process, Lukianoff said. He gave two examples of students who didn’t even fall under the mission of the program but who were required to attend—one was a student who slammed a door after an argument with her boyfriend, and the other was a male student who was rude to a dorm receptionist.

“I think MSU needs to understand we are doing them a favor by taking this public rather than by suing them,” Lukianoff said.
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Schools: Michigan State University