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Davidson College and other violators of the Constitution

December 6, 2007

As students at Davidson College, we often joked about living in a bubble. Wow, it was not even a joke.

FIRE released its 2007 speech codes report today, once again revealing that burdensome restrictions on speech are commonplace at America’s colleges and universities. The report, entitled Spotlight on Speech Codes 2007: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses, surveyed more than 345 schools and found that an overwhelming majority of them explicitly prohibit speech that, outside the borders of campus, is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The report is the most comprehensive effort to date to quantify both the number of colleges and universities that restrict free speech and the severity of those restrictions. (read the article here)

My alma mater has a ridiculously restrictive campus speech code which prohibits students from asking each other out on dates. 😆 I wonder what the campus atmosphere is like these days. When I was a student, we often went to fraternity parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Some of the verbal exchanges that went on during those parties were hilarious! If you feel harassed by being asked out, where are you going to go to get away from that? Certainly, you should not be in a frat house at a southern school on a Friday night (when the moon is full, needless to say).

Here’s a real-life example of a conversation that took place at a Davidson College fraternity party 10 years ago (I can assume that the statute of limitations has expired, but I will protect their identities):

“Hey girl, you wanna go back to my room and make out?”


“Come on, baby, don’t you know who I am?”

“Excuse me?”

“Baby, I’m on the ********** team. Come on. Let’s go to my room.”

Now, please tell me, if it were up to you, would you take that student athlete before the Sexual Misconduct Board or would you just tell him to get a grip on reality? Sure, he needs to be put in his place because he obviously thinks very highly of himself and thinks this woman should make out with him on principle.

I would like to think the woman and her supportive girlfriends are capable of doing that without crying, “Oh help! Help! I’m a kitten stuck in a tree and I need the Davidson College Sexual Misconduct Board to come to my rescue!” He could easily and very effectively be publicly embarrassed on the dance floor if the woman responds with the right choice of words. Maybe he would learn something.

I know that there are ways for college students to have meaningful verbal exchanges that may or may not lead to meaningful sexual expressions without the college writing (and presumably enforcing) a policy that violates the United States Constitution. As the Fire pointed out in March of 2006, this policy restricts theater majors in their choice of productions as well as banning so many forms of expression that it would be impossible for a student to go one day without violating the code. According to Davidson College’s policy, students are not allowed to hint at being interested in a fellow student and are not allowed to inquire about a fellow student’s sexual orientation. Why not? Why is that harassment? How else are you supposed to find out? Gaydar? Bless the students of Davidson College; they are not even allowed to raise their eyebrows because that would just be too suggestive.

  1. December 6, 2007 7:10 pm

    Good God! What has this to do with higher education anyway? And aren’t we living in the world of the liberated woman? Why is all the rules designed to protect our liberated-ness puts us in the role of victim. I think we need to banish all the uptight, politically correct, sexually frustrated rule makers to their own island. Then the rest of us can communicate freely again. 😉

  2. December 6, 2007 8:01 pm

    I hear you on that, WC. Offensive comments, jokes, innuendos and other sexually oriented statements were my favorite aspect of college life! LOL!

  3. December 7, 2007 8:20 pm

    Oh good grief. So they think they are gonna keep the students cocooned in a politically correct and totally polite bubble? And that’s going to equip them to succeed out there IN REAL LIFE after college?

    Erm, I don’t think so.

    Where has common sense gone? A school can, I hope, take a position against harassment (sexual or otherwise), assault (ditto), bigotry, and the like without getting so stupid.

  4. December 7, 2007 11:51 pm

    It seems like it would be so difficult to enforce, it wouldn’t even be worth the effort of writing out that type of policy. But, I don’t know, maybe it was a student-based initiative. When I was a student there was a Rape Awareness Committee that was prone to come up with ideas like this. I am quite feminist/liberal, but I would rather everyone have freedom of expression than have everyone trying to conform to the college-sanctioned way of expression.

    Call me crazy, but I think people should have the freedom to be bigots/misogynists/racists. Just listen to the lyrics of the songs at those frat parties and you will get an idea of how hypocritical this policy is.

    Of course dating or any sexually-charged time spent with other students is going to interfere with your studies, but that is part of the college experience. People have to learn for themselves how to spend their time, who to joke around with, who to have all-night discussions about sexuality with, who to trust, who to avoid, etc. It is pretty stupid to expect the school itself to make those decisions for the students.

  5. Robert Hester permalink
    December 8, 2007 11:41 pm

    That’s wild! I think it’s safe to say those Davidson kids expressed their interest plenty (after enough beers, of course)… 😉

  6. December 9, 2007 12:44 am

    Ugh. Solo cup memories. 😯

    The policy seems to make a distinction between expressions that get in the way of a student’s ability to study and do well and expressions that don’t interfere. It’s waaaaay to hard to draw that line, in my opinion.

    What if someone was studying at the library and then was distracted by another student’s mating call and was no longer able to concentrate? The student then leaves the library and arrives ill-prepared for class the next day. This attempt to control the campus atmosphere is too overbearing.

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