LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Freedom of speech is a right for all, including university students

Editor’s Note: The Daily News publishes Letters to the Editor with minimal copy edits and provides a headline only if the author does not provide one. The views expressed in letters do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. We reserve the right to withhold submitted letters depending on the content. Letters should be approximately 500 words and sent to editor@bsudailynews.com. 

Public Relations Director Joe Bursley is on the Ball State College Republicans board and is also the senior features editor for Byte.

Freedom of speech, enshrined as the first of many freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, is just as important today as it was back in 1791. President Trump’s executive order to ensure that universities and institutions promote free speech is not a government overreach but rather a protection of one of our most basic human rights. 

We’ve seen increases in violations and impediments to students' right to free speech on multiple public universities over the past few years. Fortunately, Ball State University has not created any environment hostile to free expression. However, other students at other campuses have not been so lucky. 

Conservative speakers such as Ben Shapiro have been threatened, disinvited and outright banned from public events at universities such as California State University, Los Angeles and University of California Berkley. A student paper at Washington University in St. Louis ran an op-ed titled “It’s OK that conservatives don’t feel welcome.” Hayden Williams, a conservative student at University of California Berkley was physically assaulted while running a recruiting event for his campus’s chapter of Turning Point USA. This all compounds into a general atmosphere of intolerance toward viewpoints, leading to a OneClass survey where 38 percent of conservative students feel unsafe on public campuses, and 55 percent of these students hide their political views from their peers. 

Universities who do very little to promote a free and safe exchange of ideas on campus are doing their students and the general public a disservice. President Trump’s recent executive order would restrict federal funding to public universities that do not protect the right of free speech for all students. Universities that receive federal tax dollars should not be implicating policies that limit freedom of expression on campus, as the main goal of a public institution is to learn, discuss, and debate various ideas, even those the university may disagree with. 

President Trump’s actions show that his administration is dedicated to upholding the First Amendment rights for all students on every public campus.

- 2019 Ball State College Republicans Executive Board


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