In an op-ed published in today's edition of The Daily Nebraskan, an independent student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), graduate student Benjamin Welch writes about the importance of having a diversity of ideas on campus, even when those ideas might offend others. Welch writes:
Regardless, when a truly diverse population exists, as many universities strive for, a person of a particular persuasion or belief system taking offense to an action or speech of another is an inevitable byproduct. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Knowledge and finding oneself is the cornerstone of the college experience, and a facet of that is learning to deal with adversity. The "real world" isn't going to coddle you after graduation, so why expect it at an institution that embodies the free-flow exchange of ideas?
Given his understanding of the value of free expression, Welch is thankful to attend a university that has earned a "green light" rating from FIRE:
In fact, UNL is one of only 15 public universities nationwide to receive a "green light" rating from FIRE's "Spotlight on Speech Codes 2013." This means that FIRE has been "unable to find a policy that seriously imperils speech" and that "FIRE is not currently aware of any serious threats to students' free speech rights in the policies on that campus."
This is good news for free-speech proponents, and drafters of school bylaws and other procedural material should be commended.