This issue of censorship is one that continues to promulgate considerable public debate. While some individuals believe that social and government institutions have an obligation to protect the general public from materials that may be harmful or offensive, other individuals firmly believe that the First Amendment to the Constitution allows for a full freedom of expression that should not be mitigated by any third party. Although numerous censorship cases have come before the Supreme Court in recent years, a precursory overview of the issue of censorship reveals that there are a growing number of court cases that involve censorship on college campuses all across the United States. This growing trend in censorship cases seems to suggest that the debate over what is appropriate for the general public has shifted focus and now involves more specific social groups.With the realization that censorship on college campuses is such a growing trend, there is a clear impetus to examine this issue, such that the who, what, when, where, and how of this issue can be delineated.
[...] In addition to the fact that many students are now taking their cases to court, Hebel (2006) reports that growing discontent about censorship on college campuses has prompted students to lobby for legislation that further protects their First Amendment rights. In particular, Hebel notes the case of AB 2581 which has been passed by the California state house. As noted by Heber the bill, if approved by the state senate, would “write into state law broad protections for the written speech of college journalists, a move that would complement and enhance the free-speech rights to which students are already entitled under the First Amendment. [...]
[...] To illustrate this point, Lamb (2002) notes the case of the George Street Observer, a newspaper published by students at the College of Charleston. According to Lamb, students published an April Fool's edition of the paper in which various ethnic minorities were satirized. In response to the paper's content, the administration sent an email to all faculty members arguing that the “issue detracted from the intellectual climate of the college” (p. 60). In the following days, faculty members condemned the publication and made numerous suggestions about how to limit the content of the publication. [...]
[...] Answering the Questions When the issue of censorship on college campuses is examined overall, it becomes evident that those students who choose the push the limits of what is considered to be “mainstream” or “socially acceptable” are the individuals who suffer as a result of censorship. Newspaper editors and staff members who satirize the local community or artists that overstep conventional or traditional boundaries are most susceptible to criticism and censorship. What is perhaps most ironic about this situation is that courts traditionally have supported the belief that the public college campus is a public forum for the open exchange of ideas. [...]
[...] Examining the issue of censorship on college campuses, it is also important to consider the individuals or groups that are actively engaged in censoring students. Reviewing the specific cases provided above, it becomes evident that high ranking academic officials are, in most cases, the culprit. The case of the theater students in Kilgore College in Texas demonstrates that pressure from local community leaders can also serve as the basis for censorship on the college campus. In many cases, it appears as if high ranking college officials attempt to maintain the status quo by preventing potentially controversial situations. [...]
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