It’s no secret that university students, once known for their brash defense of unfettered free speech, have gone rather quiet on the issue. Campus surveys reveal that most college students self-censor to some degree and that certain ideas are now taboo on campus.
A new report from Speech First, a membership association of students, parents, faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens fighting back against toxic censorship culture on college campuses, provides insight into one of the reasons students fear speaking up: Bias Response Teams. These squads (or reporting systems) are specifically created to “solicit, receive, investigate, and respond to” reports of “bias incidents” or other allegedly offensive speech. Speech First’s report pulls no punches, calling Bias Response Systems “elaborate schemes … designed to silence dissenters, stifle open dialogue, and encourage students to report speech they deem unacceptable.” Like most such initiatives on campus, their efforts tend to run in a single ideological direction.