The University of South Carolina encourages students to report incidents of hate and bias to campus administrators using an online reporting system. In other words, students on USC’s campus must be careful not to offend their peers, or they could face an investigation and even discipline for engaging in constitutionally protected speech. Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) is taking a stand against this unconstitutional policy. In a letter to the University, SLF demands that it take down its bias reporting system because it violates the First Amendment.
Conservative and libertarian student organizations enjoy hosting debates and engaging in speech activities on current affairs and political matters. Often, the topics they want to discuss are controversial. But through bias reporting systems like the one at USC, students can silence those organizations with the press of a button.
SLF explains to USC that conservative and libertarian students will be forced to self-censor as a result of the reporting system. To avoid being investigated and disciplined for a public event on a controversial topic, those students will opt for less public events on less controversial topics. This is called a chilling effect, and it is unconstitutional. For that reason, the bias reporting system must be eliminated or revised to ensure that students cannot report each other for protected speech activities.