The Campus Free Speech Problem Will Hurt Dissidents

The Campus Free Speech Problem Will Hurt Dissidents
AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz

Donald Trump is a divisive figure, but does writing his name in chalk on a university sidewalk amount to the harassment of minority students? Some students at Emory University claimed as much last spring, when the then-candidate's name, along with phrases like "Build a Wall," appeared near the buildings where many student groups had their headquarters.

The pro-Trump messages were a "direct threat to their safety,” the students contended. Asked by some to defend the First Amendment and by others to side with the aggrieved students, Emory's president came down squarely in the middle. On the one hand, "we must value and encourage the expression of ideas,” he said. Yet, on the other, the university must "provide a safe environment" for students. Then he announced Emory would devise new procedures for reporting of incidents of bias.

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