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Campus Free Speech: University of Massachusetts’ Policy Criticized

Free speech issue is a hot button issue on campuses in the United States, and a post at Huffington Post has re-ignited the debate once again. In 2009, we talked about Butler University and its handling of criticism by a student blogger Jess Zimmerman.

Now it is about a policy implemented by University of Massachusetts. According to FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), the University's policy on rallies is very troubling.

“The policy has special regulations applicable to what it calls “controversial rallies.” If a rally is deemed “controversial,” it may only take place between noon and 1 p.m. on the Student Union steps, must be registered at least five days in advance, and even requires the student group to provide its own security in the form of members of the student group, potentially putting students at risk in a situations that trained police could probably handle easily. Speech codes don't get much more ridiculous than this one.”

Popehat, a blog on legal issues, says that the policy is a hastily drawn document to comply-even if only in name, with First Amendment principles.

“Let’s be clear — this is a piss-poor effort at complying with First Amendment principles that have been well-defined for about a half-century.”

The University has so far not commented publicly on the issue, but now that the school has been listed as one of the worst for campus free speech, they may be compelled to respond.

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