Regulating Speech in the University

The question of freedom of expression in the university is an issue of paramount concern both nationwide and in Wisconsin, where the University of Wisconsin System has recently passed new regulations that would punish student protesters (or anyone who “disrupted” a speaker) in the name of protecting free speech. In that light, the Center for 21st Century Studies (C21) at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has organized a three-part series on Regulating Speech in the University, part of a year-long university-wide exploration of Freedom of Expression, sponsored by the UWM Chancellor’s Office. Because speech (including peaceful assembly) has always been regulated and protected in the United States, beginning with the First Amendment, the aim of the series is not to ask if speech should be regulated but rather how it should be regulated on campus in an era of heightened political tensions and social media attention.

Race and Free Speech on Campus—Then and Now

February 9, 2018 | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Curtin 175

Angela Lang (ACLU), Carolyn Rouse (Princeton), Rob Smith (Marquette), Johnny Eric Williams (Trinity)

More than fifty years after the Free Speech Movement began at the University of California-Berkeley over administrative attempts to prohibit African-American voter registration efforts on campus, the question of regulating speech in the university is once again at the forefront of campus life. Unlike 1964, however, today the argument for untramelled free speech is more likely to come from college and university administrators, or white supremacist figures like Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos, than from left-wing students. This symposium will provide historical and current perspectives on the changing significance of racial equality and justice in the free speech movement.

Is Campus Protest Protected Speech?

Wednesday, March 7 | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
UWM Student Union Ballroom

Geoffrey Stone (University of Chicago)

In “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge of Our Times,” University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone will address the broad issue of academic freedom and the challenges of free speech on campus today, including a discussion of the issue of protest in relation to the new University of Wisconsin regulations. Questions to be addressed include “How does the principle of freedom of expression—and the law of the First Amendment—apply in the context of higher education? What speech must be tolerated and what are the boundaries of counter-protest?”

Social Media and Academic Freedom

Friday, April 13 | 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Curtin 175

George Ciccariello-Maher (NYU), Steven Salaita (Writer)

The explosion of social media in the 21st century has posed a host of new problems for public and private employers, including small businesses, large corporations, and local, state, and federal institutions. Over the past several years, colleges and universities in particular have been involved in many instances in which professors have been vilified and attacked for things they have tweeted or posted on Facebook. The aim of this symposium is to take up the ways in which social media have come to impact and indeed to threaten academic freedom. Speakers will not only consider the relation between online speech and academic freedom but will also address the responsibilities of college and university administrators to protect and defend their faculty, students, and staff from orchestrated online smear campaigns.

Cosponsor: UWM Division of Global Inclusion & Engagement