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Abolish the Constitution? College Administrators Need to Shore Up Due Process and Free Speech, Or Face Dire Consequences

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Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Abolish the Constitution? College Administrators Need to Shore Up Due Process and Free Speech, Or Face Dire Consequences

WASHINGTON / December 14, 2021 – Students at Yale University (1) and the University of Florida (2) have signed petitions calling for the “abolition” of the United States Constitution. Students explained their support for the petition by saying, “There are a lot of outdated things in there that nowadays aren’t accepted” and the Constitution “wasn’t written for the 21st century.”

The petitions highlight an erosion of support for bedrock constitutional protections such as due process. As a result, administrators are seeing an increase in campus vigilantism, which ignores the presumption of innocence for the accused. Following are three recent cases:

  • A former student at SUNY-Purchase filed a lawsuit against the college, charging the school failed to protect him from student harassment over an alleged sexual assault incident (3).
  • Last month a group of Syracuse University protesters swarmed the front of a college fraternity, chanting the name of an alleged offender and demanding, “Kick him out, kick him out. ‘Alleged’ my ass, ‘alleged’ my ass.” (4)
  • At the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the student newspaper ran an article describing three male students as “admitted rapists,” despite the fact that the three had won their Title IX case and the local prosecutor declined to press charges. As a result, the institution agreed to pay $450,000 in response to a defamation lawsuit (5).

Free speech is also under attack.

A recent survey of students at 159 leading colleges conducted by College Pulse, FIRE, and RealClear Education reveals that only 16% of institutions received a “Green” rating, meaning that institutional policies “do not seriously threaten speech.” (6) One student at Arizona State University confided, “As an English major, just about every class I’ve taken has touched on the ‘dangers’ of white people and whiteness….As a student, I don’t feel comfortable calling this what it is: a racist ideology.”

Faculty members are seeing a curtailment of their free speech rights as well, giving rise to groups such as the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (7) and Princetonians for Free Speech (8).

Due process and free speech are bulwarks of a democratic and free society. College administrators who acquiesce to campus activists are likely to face dire consequences including continued declines in student enrollments (9), shrinking budget allocations (10), decreased alumni contributions (11), and costly lawsuits (12).