February 10, 2020

Freedom of speech should not come before student safety

By Ben Goldberger —

On Jan. 28, a student distributed anti-LGBT information to an Intro to LGBT Studies class and returned to stalk the class again Jan. 30. After the professor and students all around campus expressed their concerns about the event, the university seemingly dismissed it as a threat.

Ricky Jones, the chairman of the University of Louisville Pan-African Studies program, expressed his concerns regarding the university’s actions on the issue in a tweet Feb. 3.

Jones explained that the U of L council believed there was not much to be done regarding the issue and they do not understand why the students felt threatened in the first place.

When hearing this, one can assume that the university believes this student was just exercising his freedom of speech, therefore this is no issue.

But that is a harmful perspective which sets a dangerous example for their students and everyone around the country.

As a result of the response from U of L, they are telling students that their safety is less important than freedom of speech. They are saying that it is okay to spread hate speech and propaganda as long as they don’t disrupt the operations of the university.

This is fundamentally wrong on many different levels. As a public institution that boasts acceptance of all groups of people, U of L should be embarrassed with how they handled this situation.

Kaila Story, the professor of the course which was attacked, shared her disgust with how the university has treated this issue.

“I am beyond disturbed by the way this incident has been treated by the Dean of Students office. In these terrifying times of school shootings and public displays of violence, I would like to think that a university office would be just as alarmed as me and my students were regarding this issue. Unfortunately, this is not the case,” Story said.

While the university officials are understandably busy and have many issues to deal with every day, this issue should be at the top of their list. Nothing is more important that their students’ safety, yet they are acting as if the feelings of their students comes second to allowing hateful people to spread their opinions.

This issue will not be going away anytime soon, with students across campus protesting against the actions of the university.

“The Dean of students office needs to know that their dismissive attitudes regarding this issue won’t be tolerated by me or my students,” Story said. “Something must be done.”

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

1 thought on “Freedom of speech should not come before student safety

  1. As the parent of an LGBTQ freshman at the University of Louisville, I could not agree more. I am very concerned about her safety and ability to learn in an environment where targeted behavior like this is condoned.

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