Dear President Frohnmayer (email@example.com):
Recently, I gave a speech on your campus (the University of Oregon). During the question and answer session following the speech, liberals and conservatives alike expressed concerns about the new 46-page diversity plan you recently released. They asked me to comment on the plan after reading it. That is the purpose of my letter to you today.
The University of Oregon’s (UO) mission statement, which is quoted in the report, boasts of your school’s “…conviction that freedom of thought and expression is the bedrock principle on which university activity is based…” However, a number of free speech controversies that have occurred on your campus in recent years cast doubt on your commitment to the First Amendment.
For example, in 2005, a conservative publication known as the Oregon Commentator was de-funded after merely satirizing a trans-gendered student. The student was a student senator and, thus, a public figure. Regardless, he/she/it/undecided has no right to be free from political satire or personal discomfort under the United States Constitution.
Although the Oregon Commentator was re-funded a few months later, UO’s confusion concerning the relationship between political speech and personal comfort seems to persist. This pervasive confusion is illustrated in the following passage from your 46-page diversity plan:
Students of color and other underrepresented students often do not feel included, respected, or safe. They regularly confront inappropriate comments made by University employees and fellow students and endure tense interactions in living, learning, and other public spaces. Such cumulative experiences take their toll.
In case you missed it, the two key words in that passage are “inappropriate” and “under-represented.”
Regarding the former, the university must disabuse itself of the notion that it is responsible for ruling on the “propriety” of speech in an effort to make people feel “included, respected, and safe.” Campus radicals fought hard in the 1960s for students to be treated like adults. College administrators are fighting just as hard today to make sure students are treated like children.
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