(Oct. 4, 2022) Baton Rouge, LA: Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) sent a letter to Louisiana State University (LSU) demanding that it remove its unconstitutional bias reporting system from campus. The University urges students to report each other any time they feel “harmed” by speech. LSU even encourages students to report concerns about “gender/identity bias” and “hate speech/behavior.”
As SLF explains in its letter, it is settled law that even hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. But nowhere on LSU’s website does it explain that students cannot and will not be punished if they are reported for so-called hate speech. That means conservative and libertarian students are at risk of being reported for any of their speech activities, including speech on current events like transgender issues, critical race theory, and abortion. SLF demands that, at a minimum, the University clarify on its website that constitutionally protected speech can never be punished.
SLF Director of Litigation, Braden Boucek, explains, “Bias reporting systems create a police state on campus, where administrators empower offended students to report their classmates anytime they are exposed to an opinion they don’t want to hear. Administrators like the Dean of Students then have full authority to investigate and prosecute those claims. The intended result is conformance to majority views.”
Director of SLF’s 1A Project, Cece O’Leary adds, “LSU must make it clear to students that speech is protected by the First Amendment, including speech that feels harmful, offensive, or even hateful. Too many colleges rely on reporting forms like this as a way to censor conservative and libertarian students, but we will hold them accountable.”
Download press release.