Slate: College Students Are Children And Do Not Deserve Free Speech Rights

February 16, 2015

By F. Peter Brown at Western Journalism

Eric Posner- a professor at the University of Chicago and son of famed judge Richard Posner- makes the case in Slate that college students are children and thus do not deserve free speech or due process rights.

Posner writes:

Conservatives and libertarians are up in arms. They see these rules as an assault on free speech and individual liberty. They think universities are treating students like children. And they are right. But they have also not considered that the justification for these policies may lie hidden in plain sight: that students are children. Not in terms of age, but in terms of maturity. Even in college, they must be protected like children while being prepared to be adults.

Furthermore, he writes that “sincere expressions of opinion about same-sex marriage or campaign finance reform” are “out of place even in philosophy and politics classes, where the goal is to educate students (usually about academic texts and theories), not to listen to them spout off.”

Posner thinks that universities create speech and sex codes because “that’s what most students want.” He then says: “If students want to learn biology and art history in an environment where they needn’t worry about being offended or raped, why shouldn’t they?”

In response to the argument that college students are children, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education President Greg Lukianoff argues:

But that’s definitely an argument that people should make that straight out, but you run into a couple moral and philosophical problems with that.

One of them is the moral and philosophical underpinnings of the 26th Amendment.  Essentially, we have decided in this country that 18-year-olds… that is considered the age for majority.

We also send our 18-year-olds to war.  Unless you’re actually also willing to make the argument that nobody below the age of, I don’t know, 22 should go to war, and we repealed the 26th Amendment, we’ve got a serious problem.