The University of Houston repeals the policy against freedom of speech after a lawsuit

University of Houston last week agree to repeal its anti-bullying policy in agreement with several students who sued the school and its rector, claiming the policy violated their rights under the First and 14th Amendments.

Settlement in Speech First v. Kator et al. puts an end to the purification of the university fight against harassment policy that a group of conservative students he claimed would restrict almost any expression of their political beliefs.

The contested policy of the University of Houston described harassment such as “epithets or insults, negative stereotypes, threatening, intimidating or hostile actions, defaming jokes and displaying or disseminating or disseminating (including via email or virtual platforms) written or graphic material in the learning, living or working environment”. While some of these actions may constitute harassment, such as a physical threat to a fellow student, others clearly do not. For example, “negative stereotypes” and “defamatory jokes” are clearly protected by the First Amendment.

The policy also notes that crimes such as “verbal and non-verbal neglect”, “micro-aggression” and “irritation” can lead to punishment if they occur often enough. The policy even went so far as to note that “academic freedom and freedom of expression will not justify conduct that constitutes a violation of the law or this Policy.”

Not only was the University of Houston’s definition of harassment untenable, but the policy also claimed jurisdiction over any interaction between “university-related individuals,” whether on or off campus.

In February, the nonprofit group Speech First officially filed complaint with the South Texas District Court. On behalf of several conservative students, the group claims that politics violates the rights of these students based on their political affiliation. According to the complaint, a student represented fears that other students will find his views “humiliating,” violent “,” threatening, “defamatory,” deviant “,” or “threatening” and claim that his views “Interfere[] with “fulfilling their or” to “change their environment, especially if he shares these views passionately and repeatedly.”

On May 13, Judge Lynn N. Hughes sentenced Fr. prior order preventing the implementation of the policy. Hughes said the university could not choose to abide by the First Amendment. This is not a direction – this is a law. Restrictions on freedom of expression are prohibited in the absence of restricted circumstances carefully prescribed by the Supreme Court. ” On June 10, this provision was followed by a settlement in which the university agreed to remove the disputed parts of its policy forever – and to pay Speech First $ 30,000 in legal fees.

This case is a decisive victory for the rights of First Amendment students. Universities often use too broad and unconstitutional anti-bullying policies to cool unpopular speech. The settlement in Speech one v. Kator et al. Reiterates that the policies of public universities to combat harassment must be in line with the First Amendment and that schools must be limited to punishing Davis Standard harassment – illegal harassment, which is “so severe, widespread and objectively offensive, “that it denies students equal access to educational opportunities.

Like Charis Trump, president of Speech First, said of the recent settlement, “Universities across the country need to be made aware that overly broad policies designed to cool students’ speech will not be tolerated. Every university should defend freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and open exchange of ideas, not muttering students with speech codes that disregard federal guidelines and the U.S. Constitution.

Abolishing bad bullying policies makes universities better for all students. True acts of unlawful harassment can still be sanctioned, while allowing students of all political persuasions to debate and express themselves. While Speech First is a group of conservative students, it is worth noting that freezing speech policies against harassment are also often targeted at left-wing groups – often pro-Palestinian organizations accused of anti-Semitism.

Universities cannot expect to be places of study and intellectual research if students are implicitly threatened with investigation and punishment because they talk about their unpopular beliefs.

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