It should come as no surprise that the groups that students want defunded are far from hate groups, and include Turning Point USA and the Bull Moose Party. A petition that was put together by the Pennsylvania Student Power Network and delivered to Penn State president Eric Barron demands that “school and student activities funds, which mostly draw from students’ tuition and fees, not be used to support student hate groups,” adding, “our colleges and universities formally and publicly denounce hate groups on and around campus…”
However, in a nice change of pace from the way schools typically respond to complaints from liberal students, Penn State is pushing back, explaining that neither Turning Point USA nor the Bull Moose Party receive any direct financial support from the school. “TPUSA and the Bull Moose Party have not requested nor received any funding from the University Park Allocation Committee, the entity that distributes portions of the student-initiated fee for student organizations,” said Lisa Powers, a senior director for Penn State’s Office of Communications, to Campus Reform.
What’s even more significant is the fact that Powers cited the Constitution, and explained that the First Amendment needs to apply to speech that some people may disagree with. “As an institution of higher education, Penn State not only has an obligation to support Constitutionally protected free speech, but also is committed to open and civil exchange of ideas,” Powers said.
Quite frankly, this is exactly how every single school administration should respond when liberal students demand that conservative voices on campus be silenced. Rather than caving to their demands like so many colleges and universities have recently, schools should make it clear that they have an obligation to support Constitutionally protected speech and ultimately foster an environment that allows for the free flow of ideas, even if those ideas might be considered by some to be controversial or offensive. (Related: Anti-conservative censorship spreads from campuses to Google and other oppressive tech giants).
Still, though, the fact that students at Penn State even attempted to label Turning Point USA and the Bull Moose Party as “hate groups” is ridiculous, and sheds light on what is quickly becoming a large problem on campuses all across the country. Students on the left are increasingly seeing the suppression of voices they disagree with as something that is acceptable and even necessary, and as a result, rational political debate is rendered impossible.
What’s worse is that in some instances, it’s the school administration that is leading the anti-free speech efforts, not solely the students. In August of 2016, for example, The College Fix reported that conservative commentator and author Ben Shapiro had been banned from DePaul University due to “security concerns.” More recently, the University of Minnesota denied Shapiro’s right to speak at the school due to the fact that they couldn’t find a place to hold the event on campus, even though they conveniently found one for a leftist counter event. (Related: 24 states are now pursuing free speech bills to protect conservative speakers from left wing bullies.)
Now more than ever, the freedom of speech has to be defended on college campuses. Both liberal students and faculty members are participating in the censorship of conservative voices, and as a result, the Constitution is being rendered virtually irrelevant. This should not, and cannot be allowed to continue.