A private Catholic college in the Chicago area preemptively banned a “Free Speech Ball,” saying the conservative/libertarian demonstration was likely to get out of hand.
An administrator at DePaul University wrote the school’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter just four days prior to the date of the event, saying permission was denied for fear it could foster “an environment which invites hate,” according to Campus Reform.
Campus administrators apparently declined to elaborate on their reasoning and similarly failed to reply to a YAL official to elaborate on the school’s threat to hold rebellious students “accountable” should they go ahead with the planned event, Campus Reform reported.
“Administrators have accused us of ‘providing a platform for hate’ without providing anything to back up their claims,” DePaul YAL chapter president Thomas Barry said, Campus Reform reported. “What we’ve been trying to establish is a platform for free speech. Somehow it seems that those two ideas are seen as one and the same here at DePaul.”
DePaul has found itself in the crosshairs of free-speech advocacy groups before, with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education blasting the institution in September 2016 as perhaps the “worst” university in the U.S. when it comes to creating an environment hostile to free speech.
YAL chapters at other schools have previously thrown so-called Free Speech Balls, named for the oversized orbs on which students are encouraged to write any message they wish as a celebration of the right to free speech.
Campus Reform did note, however, that an event held in October at University of California, San Diego ended abruptly after a student repeatedly stabbed and deflated that campus’s free-speech ball with a knife.
In that incident, campus police said the alleged perpetrator was questioned but not arrested after the ball’s owner declined to press charges, the UC San Diego Guardian newspaper reported at the time.
• Ken Shepherd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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