- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2017

Punishing students who disrupt the free speech of others on college campuses “reinforces institutionalized white supremacy,” a professor at the University of Southern California warns.

Writing in the pages of Insider Higher Ed, Charles H.F. Davis III, an assistant professor of clinical education at the University of Southern California, took issue with a resolution adopted by the University of Wisconsin System that provides sanctions for students who “disrupt the expressive rights of others.”

“To be clear, it is a decision that reinforces institutionalized white supremacy ― and other oppressive forms of systemic power ― by criminalizing the self-advocacy undertaken by the most vulnerable populations in our nation’s colleges and universities,” Mr. Davis wrote.

Mr. Davis, who is also the chief strategy officer and director of research at the USC Race and Equity Center, said the policy would have resulted in the “suspension and expulsion” of students who last year disrupted a talk at the University of Wisconsin Madison by Ben Shapiro.

“This despite the fact that their civil disobedience was in direct response to the racist rhetoric advanced by Shapiro,” Mr. Davis wrote.

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents passed the “Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression” resolution on Oct. 6, after the Wisconsin legislature passed the Campus Free Speech Act, which required the university to develop a new policy to protect free speech on campus.

Mr. Davis said the rationale behind the policy conflates “civil discourse and the intellectual debate of ideas with students’ contestation of antiblack rhetoric and racist worldviews.”

“Such a conflation disregards the well-documented, rigorously researched and empirically proven role that hate speech plays not only in inciting violence but as a form of violence itself,” he wrote.

Furthermore, the University of Wisconsin policy creates a “false equivalency between antioppressive and oppressive speech.”

The professor encouraged “higher education stakeholders” to “contest the notion that colleges and universities are (and should be) ideologically neutral on social and political issues.”

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