(Oct. 4, 2022) Orono, ME: Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) sent a letter to the University of Maine challenging its bias response team and bias reporting system. The University’s bias response team has broad authority to review reports of bias and take action. On top of that, the University maintains a vague anti-bias code, where it broadly bans speech that “harms” other students. Because of this, just a few powerful administrators have the authority to target and silence speech they dislike.
SLF advises in its letter that even hate speech and offensive speech are protected by the Constitution. No matter how offensive or biased speech may seem, universities cannot ban or otherwise punish it. The bias response team at the University of Maine only serves to scare students into silence by causing them to fear being reported for expressing their views, including views on politics and current events. SLF demands that the University remove the bias response team and bias reporting system altogether from campus.
“Universities can’t force students to conform to a certain set of views and values on campus,” says Director of SLF’s 1A Project Cece O’Leary. “But that is exactly what the University of Maine is trying to do when it tells students to report each other anytime their feelings are hurt.”
SLF General Counsel Kimberly Hermann explains, “The First Amendment protects against this kind of forced censorship. Since the University of Maine is abdicating its duty to be a marketplace of ideas that is open to all views on campus, we are holding the University accountable.”
Download press release.