News and Commentary

Campus Department of Education Due Process Free Speech Press Release

Twitter Controversy Highlights Precarious State of Campus Free Speech. Concerned Persons Urged to Act by Friday.

Sharing is caring!


Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Twitter Controversy Highlights Precarious State of Campus Free Speech. Concerned Persons Urged to Act by Friday.

WASHINGTON / April 26, 2022 – Monday’s news that Elon Musk reached an agreement to purchase Twitter for $44 billion has triggered heated debate about the role of free speech in American society, including on college campuses.

While many hailed the Twitter purchase as helping to restore democratic ideals, Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor and professor at the University of California at Berkeley, darkly warned that Musk was seeking to “control one of the most important ways the public now receives news.” (1)

The dismal state of campus free speech is revealed by a recent survey of 481 colleges. The survey found that only 12% of colleges received a “green light” rating, meaning the schools had no written policies that seriously imperil free speech (2).

Three recent developments reveal growing momentum in the national effort to restore free speech on college campuses:

  1. Ohio: Last week, it was announced that Shawnee State University had agreed to pay philosophy professor Nick Meriwether $400,000 after disciplining him for not using a transgender student’s preferred pronouns (3).
  2. Oklahoma: Governor Kevin Stitt signed HB 3543 into law, which will establish the Oklahoma Free Speech Committee to review First Amendment complaints at public universities in the state (4).
  3. Florida: Last Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that the University of Central Florida’s broadly worded free speech policy violates the First Amendment. In a 38-page decision, Judge Kevin Newsom wrote the UCF policy “objectively chills speech because its operation would cause a reasonable student to fear expressing potentially unpopular beliefs.” (5)

Unfortunately, a new threat to campus free speech now looms. In May, the federal Department of Education is expected to release a draft Title IX regulation that many fear will reduce due process protections for students and faculty members accused of violating campus speech codes (6).

In response, the Attorneys General from 15 states sent a strongly worded letter on April 5 to the Department of Education. The letter concludes, “We strongly urge the Department to cancel its plans to engage in rulemaking on Title IX.” (7)

SAVE invites interested persons to contact the Department of Education and urge that the new regulation:

  • Preserve the presumption of innocence
  • Not expand existing definitions of sexual harassment
  • Mandate live hearings with cross-examination of the parties

Contact Secretary Miguel Cardona, telephone (202) 401-3000; email; fax (202) 260-7867.

The new Title IX regulation is expected to be issued in May. Persons are urged to contact Secretary Cardona by this coming Friday, April 29.