Are “Bias Response Teams” destroying Free Speech on College Campuses?

No one likes to be silenced. No one wants to be told what they can or cannot talk about. But, this is what is beginning to happen on college campuses all across America. It is an end-around of the 1st Amendment, rather than blatantly removing of the rights of the students.

At least this is the apparent result according to a recent study.

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Heat Street reports

So-called “Bias Response Teams” are creeping onto university campuses across the country. This was the conclusion of the first national survey of Bias Response Teams done by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

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The report identified 232 public and private American colleges and universities that had bias response teams on their campuses in 2016, affecting around 2.8 million students.

BRTs encourage students to formally report on other students and faculty members whenever they perceive that someone’s speech is “biased,” which threatens free speech.

These Bias Response Teams are run by administrators and volunteer police personnel. And they are encouraging students to report those who may have or are expressing a biased opinion on a subject. It also includes the way people dress for Halloween and the things they share on social media.

Heat Street continues

Most universities receive a variety of complaints from students, including students who encounter “offensive” yet legally protected speech, but rather than responding to these incidents fairly if there’s an actual threat, campuses with Bias Response Teams conduct an investigation and if the “respondent” is found “guilty”, invite them for a “hearing”.

FIRE Senior Progam Officer Adam Steinbaugh said: “Inviting students to report a broad range of speech to campus authorities casts a chilling pall over free speech rights.

“Bias response teams solicit reports of a wide range of constitutionally protected speech, including speech about politics and social issues. These sometimes-anonymous bias reports can result in interventions by conflict-wary administrators who then provide ‘education,’ often in the form of a verbal reprimand, or even explicit punishment.”

Rather than encourage students to confront ideas they do not agree with, they are teaching them to run to the governing authority. Let “Big Brother” curtail speech that we find offensive or unpleasant; another step in the destruction of free thought, and open debate.

This fear tactic also destroys free speech, as it makes the consequences too high to speak out.

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