the one saving grace is that all these speech fascists keep LOSING in courts of law. it's sad that they feel they have the authority to violate the constitution in the first place, but it's great that they get their just desserts... it's always under the guise of preventing 'harassment" or other such "icky speech". here's a hint, guys. the 1st amendment is SUPPOSED to protect speech that offends and annoys. noncontroversial speech rarely needs a first amendment. http://www.popecenter.org/clarion_call/article.html?id=1687 Itâs not every day that we find something within the University of North Carolina system to applaud. A recent development at Appalachian State University gives reason for us to take notice and also hope that other schools in North Carolina follow suit. Just a few short months since the Pope Center and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its report on âThe State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System,â Appalachian State has eliminated one of its policies that was heavily criticized by the study. After reading the study, Paul Funderbunk, a graduate student and president of Appalachian Stateâs ACLU chapter, contacted school officials to ask that they change their policies inhibiting free speech. Administrators saw the good sense in Funderburkâs position and repealed the schoolâs âharassmentâ policy on March 22. That policy, enforced by the schoolâs Department of Housing and Residence Life, stated âigotry has no place within the residence hall community, nor does the right to denigrate another human being. â¦ Harassment or the use of abusive language, insults, taunts, or challenges directed toward another person are prohibited.â FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, who wrote the report, said Appalachian Stateâs policy was âunconstitutionally overbroad,â meaning that it went much further in restricting freedom of speech than legitimate efforts to prevent harassment could. Appalachian Stateâs policy âcontradicts both Supreme Court precedent and the federal governmentâs interpretation of the relevant harassment laws,â he stated. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that for student conduct to be considered harassment, the actions must be âso sever, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victimâs access to an educational opportunity or benefits.â In making students subject to penalty for isolated âabusive language, insults, taunts, or challenges,â the school had gone far beyond the Courtâs definition of harassment and infringed upon speech protected under the First Amendment. Commenting on the decision to revoke the policy, Lukianoff said, âApp Stateâs policies are not perfect, but the university has taken a tremendous step forward.â He added, âThe speech code that was just repealed was definitely the worst offender among its policies. We look forward to seeing App State â and the entire UNC system â take even more steps to guarantee studentsâ precious rights.â Appalachian State was not alone in having policies that, according to FIREâs expert analysis, violate the First Amendment. Almost every school in the system has at least one speech code or other policy that stifles free speech or expression in some form. For example, at UNC-Asheville, students are, according to the report, forced âto profess their belief in an officially approved ideologyâ in its Student Creed. UNC-Chapel Hill, which has a history of religious discrimination, has a non-discrimination policy that says groups cannot discriminate among its members. This is not the first time this year a UNC system school has reversed its policies that hinder free speech. UNC-Greensboro in March removed restrictions on where students and faculty members can speak freely. According to the News and Record, UNC-Greensboroâs previous policy allowed two areas where students could speak freely. Appalachian Stateâs decision should serve as a beacon for other UNC system schools to repeal their free speech inhibiting policies. The action taken there shows that it is possible for well-informed students to get their schools to back away from policies that make it dangerous for people in the university community to express their views. Doing so sometimes offends people, but that is not nearly so bad as a campus where students and professors fear that any statement might land them in trouble. University officials at other campuses in the system should also take note of the decision by Appalachian Stateâs leaders and review their own policies and make the appropriate changes. During the short time that UNC President Erskine Bowles has been in office, two UNC institutions have taken steps toward restoring free speech on campus. This may be a positive sign that new leadership is already having a beneficial impact. Most likely, though, any additional change that occurs across the UNC system will be student-led. So hereâs to hoping that there are more students like Paul Funderburk in the University of North Carolina system who recognize the wrongs of policies that limit free speech and will work towards abolishing them.