Discrimination is prevalent within institutions of higher education and is often in the form of ‘Hate Speech’. According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is speech intended to “offend, threaten, or insult groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits” . University students across the nation demand that hate speech be punishable by law and permanently banned on campus. However, implementing anti-hate speech laws are difficult for universities to enact because of its direct violation of the First Amendment. Instead, universities employ speech codes to protect the rights of their students to speak freely and learn in a safe environment. According to The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “Speech codes adopted by government-financed states colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution”.Though the First Amendment grants us the freedom of speech including such hate speech, as mentioned by the ACLU, restrictions should be applied in the form of speech codes. Notable professors, Richard Delgado and Mari Matsuda, agree that hate speech obstructs on one\’s personal rights. I, too, agree with this assertion because hate speech creates a hostile environment for students, causes a decline in the enrollment of minority groups, speech codes are a better solution.
Hate Speech is a mechanism used to instill fear within minority groups. Individuals that partake in such a vile act typically use the First Amendment to justify it; without taking into account the effects their words can have. In the article, ‘Hate Cannot Be Tolerated’, Richard Delgado, provides insight on the severity of the problem by listing specific instances of hate speech that took place at Universities. The examples provided vary from offensive graffiti to verbal insults, all of which was directed to students of racial diversity. These actions are meant to frighten or humiliate them. Victims of Hate Speech may feel as though their dignity that allows them to be treated as equals in society, has been threatened. This, in turn, causes students to feel silenced. By choosing to not place restrictions on hate speech, the university fails to protect freedom of expression for all of its students. Hate speech creates such a hostile environment for these students that they fear speaking out. The ACLU fails to take into account the effect that hate speech can have on one\’s personal well-being. By ignoring the consequences of hate speech, we ignore the fears that concern that targeted individual/group.
The growth of hate speech is cause for concern because it is attributed to the decline in minority enrollment. Delgado touches on the issue and writes, “College counselors report that the campuses where highly publicized incidents of hate speech have taken place show a decline in minority enrollment as students of color instead choose to attend schools where the environment is healthier” . As both a woman and woman of Latin origin, I experienced difficulty when it came time to choose a college to attend. This is because I feared to become a potential target for people with malicious intents at a university where I would make up a small fraction of the student population. I, ultimately, did not allow such worries prevent me from attending my respective university. However, many of my high school peers did. Many chose to attend universities within the area because they did not want to feel out of place or attacked for their differences. How can one pursue a higher education when they fear those with a mentality that they are superior to their student counterparts? The ACLU should not continue to protect hate speech when it is preventing students from pursuing a higher education at universities and achieving success.
Hate speech is a controversial subject with differing opinions on the matter from opposers and supporters. Those that agree with Hate Speech believe that it is protected under the First Amendment and so should be respected. As the ACLU mentioned in, ‘Hate Speech on Campus,”The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech, no matter how offensive its consent”. This statement is true, however, Hate Speech can be obscured without freedom of speech being compromised through the use of speech codes. Speech codes regulate Hate Speech and are common in the workplace and in private organizations. Students of particular vulnerability will be able to learn in a safe and healthy environment on campus. Speech codes also allow for ‘safe spaces’ for students Students to fully express their opinions and ideas to the public without scrutiny. Speech codes are only part of the solution; by employing a diverse faculty and staff, as the ACLU suggests, we can also decrease the amount of incidents of hate speech that occur on campus. Universities across the country should raise awareness of the problem at hand and apply these ideas to create a secure and healthy learning environment for all of its students.
Hate speech is contentious, but it is important to recognize it as a potent issue on college campuses. Hate Speech can cause people to immense suffering, while others remain apathetic. So, it is vital that universities solve the problem in a way that allows all students to study and thrive in an environment that respects their individuality and ideas. That is part of the reason why Hate speech should not be tolerated. Overall, Hate Speech creates a hostile environment for students, causes a decline in the enrollment of minority groups, and speech codes are a better solution to the issue.