UNC Board of Governors: Vote "No" on your anti-Free Speech Policy

University of North Carolina Board of Governors

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Support free speech on campus: Join the North Carolina American Association of University Professors in telling the University of North Carolina Board of Governors not to adopt its misguided “free speech” policy at its meeting on Friday, December 15.

This summer, the General Assembly passed the “North Carolina Restore Campus Free Speech Act.” The law was inspired by a proposal by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank.

The legislation’s premise is that free speech is under attack on American campuses. Among other provisions, the law places strict disciplinary measures against individuals accused of violating the free speech rights of others, says that universities ought to be neutral on public issues, and empowers the Board of Governors to issue annual reports on campus free speech.

The law also requires the Board of Governors to craft a policy to implement the law on campus. The proposed policy, entitled “Free Speech and Free Expression Within the University of North Carolina” (it is available here, item A-4) aggravates the threats to free speech found in the law itself. The policy seems likely to create a chill on constitutionally protected free speech on UNC campuses.

The North Carolina Restore Campus Free Speech Act and the Board's proposed policy:

·         Make dissent scary, unsafe, and punishable.

The policy prohibits expression that “substantially interferes with the protected free speech rights of others,” a provision so broadly defined it could potentially be used to discipline any student who disagrees vocally with a speaker, anywhere on campus.

·         Chill healthy academic discourse and debate.

The policy appears to create new restrictions not found in the law itself, notably by inventing such terms as “acceptable forms of dissent.”

·         Give preference to some forms of speech over others.

They show a preference for speech over counter-speech, which is contrary to First Amendment law.

Please sign below to tell the Board of Governors to vote "no" on this policy on Dec. 15.

To: University of North Carolina Board of Governors
From: [Your Name]

UNC Board of Governors: Vote "No" on your anti-Free Speech Policy