Campus Thought Police at BGSU Unconstitutional, Southeastern Legal Foundation Says

(Oct. 4, 2022) Bowling Green, OH: In a letter challenging Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) bias reporting system, SLF warns the University that it has a duty to uphold freedom of speech for all students on campus. On its website, BGSU claims to be committed to free expression on campus. But it backtracks on that commitment when it tells students that bias incidents “will not be tolerated” and explains that bias incidents include language such as name-calling, stereotyping, or belittling others. The University than encourages students to report each other for perceived bias incidents.

SLF explains to the University that it is impossible for students to guess whether something they say will offend other students, especially these days. According to BGSU’s records, students have been reported for bias incidents in the past for just playing a card game in a dorm room. And another report shows that students complained about statements in a medical textbook that failed to consider intersex and transgender individuals.

For conservative and libertarian students who want to engage in speech on controversial topics like transgenderism, gun control, and abortion, the bias reporting system ominously hangs over them as a tool to silence them.

“If textbooks aren’t safe, no one is,” says Director of SLF’s 1A Project Cece O’Leary. “Conservative students will certainly hesitate before hosting a debate on transgenderism if they think they’ll be reported to the campus thought police.”

SLF General Counsel Kimberly Hermann states, “BGSU claims to value free speech, as the Constitution commands. But it cannot maintain a bias reporting system and also claim to protect free speech because the two are at odds with each other. BGSU must eliminate the bias reporting system and commit to protecting the speech of every student.”

Download press release.

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