In April of 2007, two groups at Michigan State University (MSU) decided to host a speech on illegal immigration. The speech was disrupted by radicals. Some arrests were made. As a result, some protestors decided to retaliate by going to the MSU Office for Inclusion. They claimed to have been harassed in violation of the MSU anti-discrimination policy.
The Office for Inclusion then decided to launch a six-month investigation of all members of the two groups who invited the speaker. They also decided to investigate the two faculty advisors. This was despite the school’s claim that its anti-discrimination policy was not meant to trump free speech.
The investigation concluded that no further action was required. But those investigated disagreed. They were outraged that the policy could be used to launch long-term investigations of conservatives simply for articulating conservative principles. And they knew the policy could be used to create a chilling effect on constitutionally protected expression.
The MSU anti-discrimination policy is problematic for three reasons: 1) It assumes “protected classes” are victims as if rights belong to groups, not individuals 2) it makes the accused demonstrate his innocence, and 3) it holds speakers responsible for “feelings” of “harassment” experienced by those who chose to listen to ideas contrary to their own.
The administration of MSU relies on secrecy and fear to empower its Orwellian policies. Meanwhile, a bold new group is taking them on. The Conservative Faculty and Staff at MSU have decided to fight the administration in a very public manner. They have announced to the administration that they will be a force for ensuring that open enquiry survives and thrives in East Lansing.
Professor Fred Fico established the group (firstname.lastname@example.org) in September of 2008 under the mission statement: To protect and defend the values articulated in the Declaration of Independence here at Michigan State University.
Nearly every university in America needs such a chapter to respond to the attempts of far left administrators, faculty, and students with an agenda to deny free speech to conservatives. Such attempts - whether made through speech codes or anti-discrimination policies – are meant to deny conservatives a platform to debate important issues. Such issues including affirmative action, gun control, and illegal immigration, need a balanced presentation in higher education.