A new bulletin board in a residence hall at Bucknell University is warning students to “T.H.I.N.K” before they speak.
This is not in an elementary school, it's in my college dorm hallway. pic.twitter.com/g4Dc6jwrtv
— Tommy John (@tciccotta) December 10, 2016
The bulletin board, which went viral on Twitter after I shared a photo of it on December 10, features the words “Think Before U Speak.” It asks students consider if their words are “true, helpful, inspiring, necessary,” and “kind.” It suggests that students should refrain from speaking if their words don’t meet all five of the criteria.
The tweet sparked a sizable online debate about coddling and thought policing on college campuses. Several users suggested that they had seen the content of the bulletin board in elementary schools. Other users suggested that the sentiment was entirely appropriate for a college-aged audience, and that it’s never a bad to be reminded to act and speak with a certain level of decorum and decency.
@tciccotta that same quote was in my elementary school I kid you not. We had to repeat it once a week in class.
— Lori (@RedefinedRight) December 10, 2016
@tciccotta There is a difference between Political correctness run amok – and basic manners, which this promotes. Return to civility is A-OK
— zdogg8 (@zdogg8) December 14, 2016
Although it is unlikely that this bulletin board is a direct attempt by Bucknell’s residential advisors to police speech, it is possible that the board is a manifestation of the hypersensitivity and coddling culture that has only been exacerbated by the results of November’s presidential election.
On a college campus, the pressure to speak only when a student knows that his words are undeniably true will lead to the demise of the type of true intellectual inquiry that leads us to new and exciting ideas. It’s important that we stay steadfast in the fight to return American universities to a place where falsehoods and mistakes are just steps on the path to new and important discoveries.