Monday, August 18, 2008

A sensible sense 

In signing the Higher Education Act reauthorization last week, Congress and President Bush have created a small opening for student free speech rights. Sec. 104 of the act reads in part:
(2) It is the sense of Congress that--
(A) the diversity of institutions and educational missions is one of the key strengths of American higher education;
(B) individual institutions of higher education have different missions and each institution should design its academic program in accordance with its educational goals;
(C) an institution of higher education should facilitate the free and open exchange of ideas;
(D) students should not be intimidated, harassed, discouraged from speaking out, or discriminated against;
(E) students should be treated equally and fairly;
As FIRE notes, it does not have the force of law, and as we've argued repeatedly in discussion of the Academic Bill of Rights, it should not have a law. But this "sense of the Congress" is an important statement nevertheless, and would seem certain to be cited in litigation when the next assault on student free speech happens.

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