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Freedom of speech on college campuses, where do you draw the line?by Circa Campus

WATCH | When it comes to free speech on campus, what crosses the line?  Circa Campus contributor Nick Cioffi got reaction in NYC, share your opinion:  FREE SPEECH

Every week, new stories arise over controversial acts on campus. Most recently, a group of prospective Harvard students found their admissions revoked dueto the offensive jokes they shared in a private group chat.

What Are The Limits?  According to our interviewees, outside of hate speech and discrimination, there should be no limits when it comes to free speech on campus. However, Harvard’s recent retraction of students’ admissions to their school for posting offensive memes in a private group chat illustrates just how blurry this line can be.

While the students thought their group chat mocking ‘sexual assault and the Holocaust’ was a harmless and private exchange of provocative content, the school administration believed that they crossed a line.

As a result, Harvard rescinded their admissions to several students upon discovering the obscene material they were sharing.  Regardless of what these limits are, college is a place where free speech and an open mind allows for a better understanding.

If someone comes to campus for a speaking event with a political background that you disagree with, our interviewees noted that it would still be worthwhile to go and listen to what they have to say. 

Whose Choice is it, Anyway?  Though a student might not want a speaker they fundamentally disagree with to come to their college, it's ultimately up to the college administrators to decide on whether or not the speaker is appropriate. 

Also, certain schools are politically aligned in certain ways- some have dominant political and religious views, so certain speakers tend to fit the mold better than others.  But, it can be refreshing and engaging to have a speaker on campus who has a different way of looking at the world than the majority view.  Stepping out of the bubble and listening to different views can lead to a productive discussion and exchange of ideas. 


As the political divide continues to embed itself in the campus community, it looks as if freedom of speech on campus is a topic that both sides can agree on. From the people we asked across the political spectrum, it would seem more important that students find where they agree with each other, in spite of where they disagree.

With that consensus, perhaps this particular issue isn’t as divisive as it seems.

Join the conversation, #CircaCampus| Engagement Dir. James Cosgrove, email:

(The article was provided by Circa Campus in partnership with GenFKD who has fellows on college campuses around the nation. Circa Campus Contributor: Nick Cioffi )