In an attempt to silence conservative and libertarian students, Southern Utah University maintains an anti-bias code that bans students from engaging in speech that demeans, embarrasses, or stereotypes other students. If students believe someone has engaged in a bias incident, the University encourages them to report it to the Dean of Students, who has unlimited power to investigate and discipline students. Through the reporting system, the University authorizes students to control their classmates’ speech by reporting them for views they disagree with. That is why SLF sent a letter to the University to put a stop to this unconstitutional policy.
It is settled law that offensive speech is protected by the First Amendment. Southern Utah University even acknowledges this on its website. But through its bias reporting system, the University contradicts that commitment when it allows students to report each other for speech they do not like.
Students are quick to report perceived bias incidents at the University. Just last year, a professor was reported for not using a student’s preferred pronouns. The University subjected him to a lengthy investigation, then forced him to take a course and warned him that if he did not use students’ preferred pronouns, he could lose pay and even his job. Conservative and libertarian students will no doubt be next.
In its letter, SLF warns the University that its bias reporting system leaves students wondering when they will be reported for bias incidents. As a result, students self-censor rather than risk being reported and subjected to punishment. This is called a chilling effect, and it is unconstitutional.