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Freedom of Speech at PSU

By Nelson Arroyo Jr
On March 1, 2019

As George Washington is quoted for once saying, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” But where is Plymouth State being led to? Are we lambs to the slaughter or on our way to “see further up here”?

On February 12th, FIRE, a media outlet whose mission is to “defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities,” according to their website. FIRE placed Plymouth State University in the top 10 worst schools for freedom of speech in the world for 2019.

In an email with FIRE’s Will Creeley, he had this to say: "Plymouth State's policies are compliant with its First Amendment obligations on their face — but in practice, the university has demonstrated a disturbing disregard for expressive rights. By firing and disciplining faculty members simply for participating in a criminal justice proceeding, Plymouth State has capitulated to mob outrage instead of standing strong for free speech. That's why Plymouth State earned its spot on our list of shame. We hope the university quickly takes action to brings its practices in line with its policies."

For those who don’t know, there was a criminal case where Plymouth State professors wrote a letter of support on the behalf of the defendant, which the professors got punished for. Alex Luger, a Plymouth State student, had this to say: “I don’t think what the person did was good, but I do think that people should be able to support them if they want.”

However, the administration at Plymouth State University is planning multiple events on campus intended to further free speech on campus, "we have planned several campus-wide opportunities to discuss important issues and free speech is among the topics we intend to focus on." said Marlin Collinwood, Director of Marketing and Communications. Collinwood also said that “There is no better place than a university to explore the issues and answers and as we are engaged in that exploration we are learning and growing in our understanding and practice of the rights, limitations, and responsibilities of and related to free speech.”

With all this controversy about freedom of speech, it is more important now than ever to speak up. How do you think the school treats free speech, are we sheep to the slaughter, or can we see further up here?

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