Northwestern U. College Republicans Score Free Speech Win over Censor-Happy Student Government

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The College Republicans student group at Northwestern University scored a free speech win by defeating a funding freeze that was implemented by the school’s student government after the conservative group hosted author and Critical Race Theory (CRT) opponent James Lindsay.

The reversal came after the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) wrote a letter calling on university to stop the Associated Student Government from freezing the conservative student group’s funds, which were being used to promote an event featuring Lindsay.

Charlie Kirk, Dr. James Lindsay, Alex Marlow discuss CRT and Queer Theory for Charlie Kirk Podcast. (Matt Perdie/Breitbart News)

“After the letter from FIRE, ASG leadership told the College Republicans that Northwestern’s Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance had decided not to investigate the flyers,” FIRE announced. “Thus, the freeze on the funding was void.”

The school’s student government had used “emergency legislation” after discovering posters advertising for the event, according to a report by the university’s student newspaper, the Daily Northwestern.

The legislation was based on the student government’s belief that the flyers advertising Lindsay’s speaking engagement were in violation of the university’s Policy on Discrimination & Harassment.

The student newspaper reported that one of the flyers advertising the event featured “sunglasses with a queer pride flag and a skull and crossbones superimposed over the lenses.”

“We can’t prevent a speaker from coming to campus as student government. That’s done by administration,” Molly Whalen, co-president of ASG, said, adding that the student government therefore “focused on the part that we could control, which is student group conduct and student group finances.”

In its announcement, FIRE noted that it still has concerns regarding students’ free speech rights at Northwestern University.

“While the College Republicans regaining their funding is certainly a victory for free expression on campus, we remain concerned that the ASG froze their funding in the first place,” the organization stated.

“Punishing protected expression, even temporarily, will inevitably chill speech for other clubs who fear running afoul of the student government and triggering a funding freeze while administrators go through the process of determining whether student speech is protected,” FIRE added.

The organization concluded that “This chilling effect has no place at a university such as Northwestern that promises students robust free speech rights.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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