Is Free Expression Controversial?
Is free expression controversial? FSU’s beautiful Landis Green is a magnet for debatable speakers to frequent. FSU embraces diversity and celebrates individuality within its community; however, the college culture pulls in visitors determined to protest and argue the lifestyle of many of FSU’s students. So where is the fine line drawn between the protection of FSU’s community and the preservation of free speech?
On April 15, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis backed a specific free speech policy that allows for free speech among all Florida Universities regardless of how offensive the viewpoints may be. DeSantis explained that the state of Florida is determined to protect free speech and open exchange of ideas within campuses. DeSantis stresses the importance of allowing this kind of free speech in order to remain a united front that encourages free speech and challenging conversations. DeSantis advised that the best way to protest the more tasteless speakers on campus is to provide them with no audience to entertain.
In my personal experience, FSU students manage quite well by paying little to no attention to the more hateful speakers that tend to present themselves on Landis Green and near the Union. The more offensive speakers tend to project detestable speeches in regard to sexuality, religion, drinking, and drugs. All too often, these same speakers will engage in shaming women who they believe are participating in distasteful or unholy behavior. I often find that the advice provided by DeSantis is overwhelmingly accurate in that if we intentionally ignore these speakers by not gathering around and providing them an audience, students can move along without being offended by what may otherwise be interpreted as an offensive topic. Speakers tend to lash out only when given an audience to provoke.
Like all Florida public universities, FSU applies something called the Campus Free Expression Act. This act is a law for public universities and colleges in Florida that allows these universities to allow visitors to freely speak in outside areas around campus. FSU has been a campus that has always promoted free speech by every person: an employee, a student, invited and uninvited speakers.
FSU, like most colleges, wants students to “seek knowledge debate ideas, and form opinions;” which naturally coincide with the freedom to express one’s views. It is the right of the speaker to speak as long as it does not interfere with the enjoyment and rights of others on campus. For the most part, this hasn’t been an issue, in my opinion. FSU is a peaceful, yet lively campus.
Here are FSU’s guidelines regarding Freedom of Expression and Controversial Speakers.
Avery Hinchman, FSU Intern
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