A report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has revealed that over 230 American universities are encouraging students to report their peers for offensive speech.
Through bias-report systems, university administrators are encouraging students to report their peers for expressing offensive thoughts. Some are concerned that what constitutes “offensive” is entirely subjective and can be determined arbitrarily by the individual submitting the report.
Adam Steinbaugh of The Washington Examiner found that any speech that subjectively offends an individual can be considered worthy of a bias incident report. Once the report has been filed, it is up to administrators to determine if the student responsible for said speech should be disciplined.
“What I found is detailed in a new report describing how universities broadly define ‘bias’ to include virtually any speech, protected or not, that subjectively offends anyone. On many campuses, administrators are called upon to referee whether speech is polite,” Steinbaugh concluded.
The report makes clear that threats to open expression on campus come from both the left and left. At Appalachian State University, students filed reports in response to both pro-Trump chalk messages and chalk messages calling Trump a “racist.” According to the FIRE report, the pro-Trump chalk messages were considered to be “hate speech,” and the anti-Trump writings were considered to be “politically biased slander.”