Silencing students: UNH tilts a lance at the First Amendment

By November 3, 2004

IN AMERICA today, the worst violators of free speech rights are universities, and the University of New Hampshire is no exception to this rule. This fall, Timothy Garneau, a 20-year-old sophomore, posted fliers in his residence hall suggesting that freshman women take the stairs instead of the elevator so they could lose weight. For this, UNH evicted him.

The prank was sophomoric — as one might expect of a sophomore. The university’s reaction was outrageous — as one might expect from a totalitarian state. An appropriate reaction would have been discussing with Garneau why the joke was in poor taste, not making him homeless.

Last week UNH changed its mind and decided that Garneau’s fliers hadn’t violated school policy after all. This decision coincided with a challenge from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which called the initial eviction unconstitutional. Thank goodness there are groups like FIRE to protect students’ rights. Otherwise, one can only imagine what suppression universities would get away with in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity.”

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Schools: University of New Mexico