The Tufts University student government has overwhelmingly rejected a resolution to broaden free-speech protections on campus, with some student leaders denouncing the measure as an “unsafe” act that “actually really harms students.”
The resolution from Tufts student Jake Goldberg had called for adding clarifications to the university’s speech guidelines, which have earned Tufts a “red light” rating from the free-speech advocacy group FIRE.
The resolution took aim at the university’s vague administrative prohibitions against “inappropriate language,” “gender bias,” “hurtful words,” and “comments on an individual’s body or appearance,” among other examples cited in the measure.
Such guidelines were far too broad, and threatened free speech rights on campus, Goldberg argued. Clarifying language was needed “so that we the students are fully aware of exactly what conduct violates Tufts’ policies and simultaneously receive the full protection of the First Amendment in regards to speech.”
Tufts student leaders did not agree. The student senate recently voted down the measure 26 to zero, with two abstentions, the College Fix reports. A number of student senators argued that the proposal “actually really harms students” because “clarity in itself is subjective.”
One student senator argued in a Facebook post, which she later deleted, that a holistic process is needed to balance our right to free speech and everyone’s right to access their education free from discrimination.”
Student senator Nesi Altaras pushed pack on the suggestion that free-speech rights are the “best kind of rights,” because “there are other countries with free speech issues, and some countries handle them better than America.”
Another student senator, Ben Kesslen, suggested that Tufts students “instantly” began feeling “unsafe” upon learning of the resolution’s existence. “By passing this resolution, we [would be] making more students feel unsafe on a campus they already might not feel safe,” he said.
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