UMass Amherst: Don't Deny Students Free Speech!

UMASS Amherst Chancellor Subbaswamy: Don't Deny Students Free Speech!

 

UMass Amherst: Don't Deny Students Free Speech!

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282 people have signed. Help us reach 500 signatures.

UMass Amherst: Don't Deny Students Free Speech!

The 30,000 students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are subject to some of the worst restrictions on free speech at university-level in the United States.

University officials have mandated restrictive policies which, among other things, only allow students to hold speeches or rallies between the hours of 12noon and 1pm, when class is in session. And, also, any such speeches or rallies must be held in a type of "safe space-speech zone", which has been designated for the purpose.

And, not only that. Apparently, these draconian measures militate heavily against the freedom of speech of an individual on campus, as only groups (not individuals) may apply for "speaking space" (like, rooms or auditoriums), outside of the "safe space-speech zone."

If these types of restrictions on the First Amendment don't alarm you, they should! Such restrictions not only have a chilling effect on free speech, but they are also unconstitutional!

And, that's why the Young Americans for Liberty Chapter at UMass Amherst, together with the liberty-loving legal outfit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a lawsuit against the University on January 8th, 2018.

That's also why this petition, directed to the Chancellor of UMass, and Cc'ed to Young Americans for Liberty and ADF, is calling for the University to rescind these draconian restrictions with immediate effect.

If UMass Amherst were a private university, the casual observer might allow for the idiosyncrasies of such harsh and chilling restrictions on the freedom of speech - if the students understood and accepted (beforehand) that that would be the policy. However, UMass Amherst is a public university, in receipt of tax-payer funding. Therefore, the University simply must abide by the fundamental law of the land.

Tax-payers have the right to demand that their funding be used in accord with the Constitution.

But, the Chancellor, Dr. Kumble R. Subbaswamy, already knows this instinctively. In fact, only 8 months ago, Dr. Subbaswamy had an op-ed piece published in the Boston Globe, in which he expounded on the virtues of "academic freedom."

In the following part of that essay, Dr. Subbaswamy declares that it is the university's place to defend academic freedom (and, the more basic freedom of speech which underpins it):

"As researchers, scholars, and teachers, it is our responsibility to protect the pursuit of truth on our college campuses. We must challenge the preconceived notions of our students and society at large through rigorous, fact-based presentation and the dissemination of information based on scholarly processes.

It is imperative that the university be a place where the great issues of the day are vigorously debated, whether they be economic, social, philosophical, or political. And while a university community must not tolerate hate speech, on a free and open campus no idea should be banned or forbidden."

But, the current policies do not exactly encourage "vigorous" debate. Quite to the contrary, they actually do "ban and forbid" ideas from being publicly expressed for more than 95% of the day, in a space that equates to less than 1% of the area of the UMass campus...

So, let us now politely, but firmly, ask Dr. Subbaswamy to abide by the law of the land, and actually put into practice his decent theoretical notions about academic freedom and freedom of speech.

UMass: Show true tolerance for free speech, and practise what you preach!

Thank you for signing this important petition.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/blog-details/allianceedge/2018/01/08/can-free-speech-be-limited-to-only-one-hour-a-day

https://www.umass.edu/chancellor/op-ed-boston-globe-academic-freedom-key-truth-%E2%80%93-and-democracy

https://yaliberty.org/

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UMASS Amherst: Don't Deny Students Free Speech!

For the Kind Attention of:

  • Chancellor of UMASS (Amherst) - Dr Kumble R Subbaswamy

On May 18, 2017, the Boston Globe published an op-ed piece you wrote for last year's commencement season. The essay is entitled, "Academic Freedom is the Key to Truth – and Democracy," and, without taking sides in political debate, you adeptly defend the good aspects of academic freedom.

One of the key parts of your essay is worth repeating, where you justly opine:

"We live in a time when the infinite amount of information available at our fingertips could have a democratizing effect on the dissemination of information. Indeed, the Internet has presented us with the opportunity to explore any topic we wish — examining it from every conceivable angle. But too often, people shun the availability of different perspectives. Instead, they exclusively return to places that share their own worldview, which in turn, perpetually reinforces their belief system."

After a paragraph, you then go on to declare that it is the university's place to defend academic freedom, and, the more basic freedom of speech which underpins it:

"As researchers, scholars, and teachers, it is our responsibility to protect the pursuit of truth on our college campuses. We must challenge the preconceived notions of our students and society at large through rigorous, fact-based presentation and the dissemination of information based on scholarly processes.

It is imperative that the university be a place where the great issues of the day are vigorously debated, whether they be economic, social, philosophical, or political. And while a university community must not tolerate hate speech, on a free and open campus no idea should be banned or forbidden."

Having read what you wrote concerning academic freedom, only 8 months ago, it is, therefore, very confusing and disappointing to read that your university has some of the worst free speech policies in the country.

Apparently, these policies forbid students from holding outdoor speeches or rallies, except between 12noon and 1pm each day class is in session. And, alarmingly, such speeches and rallies may only take place in a "safe space-speech zone" reserved for such activity.

This doesn't exactly sound like setting the stage for "vigorous debate." Rather, it is an invitation to, "shun the availability of different perspectives...", and, instead, allow students to, "exclusively return to places that share their own worldview, which in turn, perpetually reinforces their belief system."

And, these restrictions on freedom of speech...apart from being contrary to what you prescribe...well, they're also unconstitutional.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, now call on you and UMASS (Amherst) to rescind these restrictions on free speech, with immediate effect.

Please put into practice your decent theoretical notions about academic freedom and freedom of speech. Thank you!

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

UMass Amherst: Don't Deny Students Free Speech!

Sign this petition now!

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282 people have signed. Help us reach 500 signatures.