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Purdue U President Puts Potential Anti-First Amendment Protesters on Notice

Leftist students at the University of Missouri and other schools began protests this week over what they consider “racist” campuses. Some students at Missouri called for racially segregated “safe spaces” away from white students (even like-minded ones).

The school’s campus police sent an e-mail this week asking students to report “hateful” or “hurtful” comments. Sounds like an attempt to suppress speech to any reasonable person. Even the leftist ACLU cried foul. “Mistakenly addressing symptoms — instead of causes — and doing it in a way that runs counter to the First Amendment is not the wise or appropriate response.”

Melissa Click, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, called for “muscle” to have a student journalist (who’s filed a formal complaint) removed as he covered the protests. The school’s vice-president of the student body didn’t hold back in her assessment of this fundamental, constitutionally enumerated right:

“I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here,” Brenda Smith-Lezama told MSNBC. “I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.”

But one university president pre-empted future attempts to suppress free speech at his school. Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, issued a statement to remind (or inform unaware) would-be student and faculty protesters of the school’s commitment to free speech. He wrote (emphasis added):

Two years ago, a student-led initiative created the “We Are Purdue Statement of Values”, which was subsequently endorsed by the University Senate. Last year, both our undergraduate and graduate student governments led an effort that produced a strengthened statement of policies protecting free speech. What a proud contrast to the environments that appear to prevail at places like Missouri and Yale. Today and every day, we should remember the tenets of those statements and do our best to live up to them fully.”

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