Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: Stifling Speech

July 9, 2007

Check out today’s Campus Alert in the New York Post, where we highlight similarities between Singapore’s overly zealous regulation of public life and the tactics often used by American universities trying to stifle student speech.

As Samantha pointed out in a recent blog, to speak freely in Singapore, citizens must use a “Speakers’ Corner”—a small, designated area where available times and topics are limited.

Similarly, many American public universities keep “free speech zones” where students’ speech is limited to a designated area for a certain time and often pending administrative approval.

As Campus Alert points out:

For example, speech at McNeese State in Louisiana is governed by the school’s “Public Forum Regulations Policy,” which limits student speech to two “Public Demonstration Zones.” In these two “zones"—and only in these zones—McNeese students “may speak on campus one time per week” for just two hours.

Student groups have it worse: instead of once a week, they can only demonstrate once per semester. What’s more, all students seeking to use the zones must submit an “application,” to be approved “at least 72 hours in advance.” Finally, McNeese limits student speech in the zones to Monday through Friday, dawn to dusk. Sound familiar?

FIRE has fought free speech zones at schools across the country, and we’ll continue to do so. Just as we said in Campus Alert, “Free-speech zones at public universities are an embarrassment. After all, this is the United States—not Singapore.”

Schools:  McNeese State University