Recently, Penn State University sent out a press release discussing an event called “Illegal Immigration Awareness Day” being planned by the College Republicans. Although provocative, the event itself is not the interesting part. What is notable are the comments made by the administration concerning the students’ right to hold the event.
Terrell Jones, Vice Provost for Educational Equity, stated:
The College Republicans certainly have a Constitutional right to conduct such an event, offensive as it may appear to some in the community. In protecting everyone’s right to free expression, the University cannot censor the content of student-organized events. (emphasis added)
Then, Penn State President Graham Spanier remarked:
The nation’s immigration policy is a legitimate topic for discussion and debate, and a university is clearly an ideal forum for such discourse. We encourage discussion on such issues…However, the approach initially proposed by the College Republicans, while protected by the First Amendment, was unproductive and offensive to many. (emphasis added)
The press release concludes by stating:
While promoting free speech and expression, the University takes this opportunity to reiterate its clearly stated policy prohibiting acts of discrimination against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. While not applicable to free speech and expression, the University will continue to enforce this policy… . (emphasis added)
As far as university administrators go, these statements are a pretty good. But, if Penn State is such a bastion of liberty, why is it a “red light” school that was recently sued for its unconstitutional speech codes?
If President Spanier believes what he is saying, instead of defending its speech codes in court, he should immediately do away with them.