Illinois College Threatens Punishment For ‘Bias’ And ‘Disparaging Comments’

Rob Shimshock | Education Reporter

An Illinois community college is threatening to discipline students who use “offensive language,” “cyber bullying,” or “disparaging comments,” according to a Wednesday report.

Carl Sandburg College’s Student Code of Conduct warns students that there could be repercussions for these and other subjective acts, Campus Reform reported.

“[Administrators] may initiate disciplinary proceedings against a student who” “is verbally abusive, threatens, uses offensive language, intimidates, engages in bullying, cyber bullying, or hazing, uses hate speech, disparaging comments, epithets or slurs which create a hostile environment,” reads the code of conduct.

Students “initiat[ing] or participat[ing] in incidents of bias and hate crimes” can also be punished.

Sam Harris, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) vice president of policy research said that enforcing the policy could result in Carl Sandburg College, a public school, becoming the target of a free speech lawsuit.

“A public school certainly cannot punish students for any and all ‘offensive language’ or ‘disparaging comments,’ nor is ‘hate speech’ a legally cognizable category of speech unprotected by the First Amendment,” said Harris to Campus Reform.

But Aaron Frey, public relations specialist at the school, defended the policy and acknowledged the school’s commitment to “differing perspectives,” but did not specify which speech would be tolerated and which would not.

“Being open to differing perspectives and opinions is an integral part of the educational experience and the growth of students,” Frey told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We also find it important that those ideas are exchanged in a manner that is respectful and free of speech that may be deemed abusive or hateful, in order to maintain a welcoming environment for our students.”

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