Free Speech Organization Sues Florida University Over 'Chilling' Policies

(AP Photo/Josh Edelson)

In Florida, they’re suing over speech.

As relayed by Fox News, nonprofit Speech First — which focuses on campus liberty — has filed suit against the University of Central Florida.

The hubbub’s over three college components:

  • Its computer policy
  • Its harassment policy
  • Its bias response team, the Just Knights Response Team

Purportedly, students are asked to report on instructors and peers for “problematic speech.”

The school’s Just Knights Response Team then investigates.

Speech First says guidelines not only on-campus but off, and the policy defines “harassment” as any event creating “continuing adverse effects on or…a hostile environment for students.”

The Daily Wire takes us deeper:

Under the school’s policy, if Student A explains why they support police officers and Student B is offended by this idea, then Student A could face punishment for speaking about something that has an “adverse effect” on Student B.

Students employing the college’s technological resources are subject to the same.

From its network policy page:

In accordance with FAC Rule 6C7-4.037, university computing and telecommunications resources shall not be used as follows. … To transmit to others or to display images, sounds, or messages that reasonably could perceived as being harassing, invasive, or otherwise unwanted. … Any violation of the rules and policies described above shall generally result in immediate loss of network and computer access and privileges.

Speech First is suing on behalf of three students who claim they’re afraid to express political opinions given the school’s “discriminatory policy.”

SF President Nicole Neily explained the organization’s position to Fox:

“We believe that the school has designed these policies to have the effect of chilling students’ speech so that the policies have both the design and effect of discouraging students from expressing themselves. … Most universities…if they were to just flat-out ban — you know, you can’t say, ‘I support President Trump…’ — if they had that on the books, it’d be challenged, it’d be thrown out. So instead, they use what I think of as…weasel words. They ban offensive language or harassing language or…words that students find humiliating.”

UCF’s policy prohibits “verbal, physical, electronic or other conduct based upon an individual’s race, color,” among other categories, which interfere with “that individual’s educational or employment opportunities, participation in a university program or activity, or receipt of legitimately-requested services.”

Per the complaint, students don’t “fully express [themselves] or talk about certain issues because [they] fear that other students, faculty members, or others will report [them] to the Just Knights Response Team for committing a ‘bias-related’ offense.”

“Just the mere fact, Nicole continued, “that students are discouraged from expressing their viewpoints because they can get in trouble for saying pretty much anything, any time, anywhere…is appalling because no student…wants to deal with a disciplinary apparatus…”

The suits asserts violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Furthermore, it calls for a disbanding of the Just Knights Response Team and an end to the school’s harassment and computer policies.

From SF’s February 16th statement:

The University of Central Florida and its administrators have created a series of rules and regulations that restrain, deter, suppress, and punish speech about the political and social issues of the day.

Fifty years ago, who’d have guessed such a thing would ever be said of an American college?

But it’s being said now — across the country — like it’s goin’ outta style.

See the filing below.

Complaint — As Filed UCF by Fox News

-ALEX

 

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