A resolution that would have expanded and broadened free speech protections for students at Tufts University was unanimously rejected by members of the school’s student government over concerns that it would make the community less safe.
Tufts student Jake Goldberg, who was attacked by his peers in October for proposing a pro-free speech agenda on campus, brought the resolution to Tufts’ student government with the hopes that it would help end anti-speech policies that crack down on crack down on the “use of nicknames,” “hurtful words,” “bias-fueled jokes,” “comments on an individual’s body or appearance,” “innuendos of a sexual nature,” and “gender bias.”
Goldberg explained that the goal of his proposed resolution was to “make sure these [vague administrative] policies are cleaned up, better defined, and use language that’s easy to understand.”
Despite Goldberg’s seemingly reasonable goals, the resolution was unanimously rejected by the Tufts student government (26-0, with two abstentions).
Tuft’s Senate President Gauri Seth condemned the resolution as being too subjective and harmful to students, arguing that “clarity in itself is subjective so I don’t really know what we’re voting on, which is why I oppose this resolution… I just don’t think [the resolution] protects students in the way that it should. I think that actually really harms students.”
Another student senator argued that abolishing restrictions on speech shouldn’t be a priority for the Tufts student government: “I believe everyone’s right to access their education on this campus is more important than abolishing the protective restrictions we have on free speech.”
Student senator Ben Kesslen explained that he voted against the resolution because of the backlash that occurred on campus after its proposal: “We instantly heard that people were feeling unsafe on campus. Survivors of assault were feeling unsafe, students of color, queer and trans students, disabled students, students from all different marginalized identities, were feeling unsafe on this campus.”
Kesslen went on to claim that he feels it should be the priority of the Tufts student government to listen to the concerns of students who feel that they would be further marginalized by resolutions that come before the student senate. “I think what we need to do is listen to those students, center them, build them up, and like not pass this resolution,” Kesslen explained. “And I think that what that means is like, by passing this resolution, we are making more students feel unsafe on a campus they already might not feel safe walking on walking through every single day.”
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org