Free Speech vs. Inclusiveness: What college students think

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Free Speech vs. Inclusiveness: What college students think

UNF student Zeph Kane targeted by an on-campus preacher

UNF student Zeph Kane targeted by an on-campus preacher

UNF student Zeph Kane targeted by an on-campus preacher

UNF student Zeph Kane targeted by an on-campus preacher

Heydi Ortiz, News Editor

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The first amendment has been the hot topic for universities nationwide as the debate on the limitations of free speech rage on, especially at UNF, where campus preachers seem to be a recurring topic year after year.

According to a new report by the College Pulse, college students show support for free speech but are conflicted when it comes to deciding whether or not promoting an inclusive society that welcomes diversity is more important than protecting even the most extreme forms of free speech. The report surveyed 4,407 full-time college students enrolled in four-year degree programs in December of last year.

The report showed that 53 percent of students favored protecting free speech, but 46 percent said it’s more important to have an inclusive and welcoming society. However, while more than half of students said hate speech should continue to be protected under the first amendment, 41 percent disagreed.The responses varied according to gender, reace, sexual orientation, political affiliation and religion.

But what does this study say about college students in today’s climate?

Nearly six in 10 college students believe hate speech should be protected under free speech, while 41 percent disagreed. Because of this data, it seems that college campuses are more divided on the limitations of free speech than ever before.

Spinnaker posted a poll to twitter to find out what UNF students thought about the situation. Although only 49 people participated in the poll, 47 percent said the First Amendment should be protected at all costs, while 53 percent said restrictions are needed on campus.

Two months ago, an Osprey Roundtable showed UNF students are made uncomfortable by campus preachers and speakers who allegedly made LGBT-related comments that compared gay men to pedophiles and also made other offensive comments regarding other Christian religions. A UNF student also posted a video that went viral on twitter which showed an on campus preacher telling a student “Do you know it’s not OK to be gay? That’s from the Bible,” which generated conversation about whether or not campus preachers should be allowed on campus.

The Szymanski administration protects full freedom of speech on campus according to UNF’s Policies and Regulations for Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation which states that “The University also recognizes that it is an environment in which its faculty have the academic freedom to provoke thought and debate and to engage in open discourse related to their individual areas of academic instruction. Thus, in exercising the standards put forth in this regulation, the University will not abridge either free speech or academic freedom based on its context.”

There has been no obvious effort from the university to address what most students seem to consider hate speech. Time will tell if this debate will further develop or fall by the wayside.

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