On November 26, all 100 members of the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW), the university’s student government, voted for the passage of a resolution supporting students’ right of free speech. The unanimous resolution (PDF) reads in part:
WHEREAS, roughly 1 in 6 of America’s top colleges have so-called “free speech zones,” defined here as a space into which a college reserves the right to restrict speech or assembly activities, frequently characterized by limited use, limited area, and the need for pre-registration; and
WHEREAS, the UW administration in recent years has been both supportive and considerate of the free speech rights of students, which these zones would certainly violate; and
WHEREAS, the ASUW is devoted to representing and protecting students’ rights, the right to free speech and freedom of assembly being one of the most important of those; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON:
THAT, the ASUW, in its official capacity to represent students, condemns “free speech zones” and all methods of chilling and silencing free speech on campus; and
THAT, the ASUW will oppose the addition of such systems to the UW campus, whether in action or in proposal; and
THAT, the ASUW affirms the right of students to express their opinions openly, regardless of that opinion’s popularity, as long as their actions do not violate the Student Conduct Code…
[Internal citation omitted.]
We at FIRE could hardly have said it better! We are always happy when students take the lead in speaking out for their rights, and this example from ASUW is one that other students should emulate.
The University of Washington earns a “yellow light” rating from FIRE because the university maintains four policies that could ban or excessively regulate protected speech. Hopefully, the passage of this resolution is just the start of a student-led effort to reform those policies, so that the University of Washington can join FIRE’s exclusive list of “green light” institutions whose policies are completely consistent with their obligations to protect student speech. As always, we’ll keep you posted here on The Torch.
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