Don’t silence free speech


The last time I thought about free speech was in an AP Government class my sophomore year of high school.

I never really thought about my rights within free speech until I came to college and saw that my right as an American citizen was being regulated to approximately 1.6 acres of our 1,400-acre campus.

According to the Constitution, “Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.”

When I first came to the university, I saw chalk on the sidewalks, signs on the quad and I thought that free speech was “free.” I thought I would have the opportunity to express any opinion I had, at any time with little effort.

I would see student-organizations take over the quad and certain people come to the free speech zone, if I was offended I would look away and if I enjoyed it I would partake in what they were delivering.

I never thought anything of it.

Until one day when I came to campus and saw our free speech zone surrounded by a fence for the Fuquay Welcome Center.

As I walked into the performance center I tried to recall seeing something about the change but I realized that I didn’t see anything.

Like most students, I didn’t question it.

I didn’t even know if we would have another free speech zone but for some reason that was okay not to bring up.

Because I guess I never really thought about what free speech really means until now.

I firmly believe that speech should be regulated to an extent especially if someone is going to offend or harm another person.

But how do we know what is offensive?

When the radical preacher came to campus last semester, I saw people walk away from what he was saying in tears and although I was very frustrated about that situation, it is his right to speak out about what he chooses and we have the right to look away.

If a zone wasn’t present would he have had the opportunity to walk around our campus shouting “hateful” comments to students?

Although I believe we should have zones, I don’t believe that they should be tucked away and hidden from students. Not all student protests or organizations speaking out are bad. And everyone has a right to know them.

The scary thing is, most students don’t know what the university’s policy is on free speech. Because let’s face it if you’re not affected by it why would you think to ask.

But it’s important to realize if something is being taken away from you especially your right, you should be aware.

Do I believe that this is the university’s way of getting rid of radical preachers or something that might be offensive students but staying in the rules?


But I strongly believe that it is our right as a student body to see what is happening on campus. If someone is choosing to have a protest shouldn’t we be able to know what it is? If it’s hidden behind a building the likelihood of it affecting anyone is very minimal.

Considering this university is a public institution, we should have the right to speak out on issues we feel deserve a spotlight. But at the same time it should also be in a place accessible to those who want to be a part of it.