Wednesday, February 28, 2018

First Amendment Rights Are Absolutely 'Pivotal'

You'll want to take this from a university Republican Club. This kind of thing is happening in academia all over the country:

The Rider University College Republican Club Executive Board unanimously voted last night to oppose Section 1.1 of Measure 3 of Student Government Association Student Senate Bill 3S-7 (seen above). 

 This section gives the Rider University Student Government Association (SGA) the power to arbitrarily call “into question” the recognition of any student club on campus if they are “participating in, hosting, or condoning activities” (“activities” is left undefined) “that espouse inflammatory, hateful, or derogatory rhetoric or agendas” (which are all also undefined). This leaves the door wide open for SGA to remove Rider University of club’s with which its leadership does not agree.

There are no definitions offered, only that a club can be in violation of Measure 3 even if these actions are not a violation of “academic classifications of ‘hate speech,’” which to the best of our knowledge do not exist. In fact, the Rider University Student Code of Conduct works to protect free speech. In its definition of “Harassment,” it is stated that “Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed either to (1) limit the legitimate exercise of free speech, including but not limited to written, graphic, electronic or verbal expression that can reasonably be demonstrated to serve legitimate education, artistic, or political purposes...”

The First Amendment rights of all Americans, but especially of students and student organizations on a college campus, are pivotal to their successes. A student club or organization existing in constant fear of losing their SGA recognition, and in turn their access to funding or their ability to reserve a room on campus, would be one that is not truly serving its membership. If our organization is afraid to have a speaker come to campus out of fear that he/she may make a point that someone finds “inflammatory, hateful, or derogatory” and that would cause us to no longer exist as a club, then our organization would not be able to carry out our mission or serve our membership properly.

We stand strongly and firmly against this section of this bill, and urge SGA to amend or repeal the bill immediately. We will not stand for the stifling of free speech on our campus, or anywhere in this great country. Free and open discourse is the cornerstone of an academic campus and its limiting is not only counter-intuitive to the mission of any university. We hope that SGA will take the proper steps to fix this.

Requests for further information, press inquiries, or any questions can be directed to the club's email,

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