Have you ever had someone offend you and try to cover it up by saying it’s their freedom of speech? Many of us have. And since you can’t actually control what someone says, what can you do about it?
This past February, Michigan State University administration decided to no longer allow students to put whiteboards on their dorm room doors, as a way to try to discourage hate speech.
Associate professor Daniel Bergan in the Department of Communication said he encourages productive conversations about diverse topics in his class and invites students to speak about them
“I think that most faculty members are really pro free-speech,” said Bergan. “Our livelihood depends on being able to debate controversial topics, and we want to be able to do that freely without the government or the courts making a statement about what topics are off limits.”
But—there are some instances when exercising these rights can become offensive.
Michigan State University has policies to ensure and protect students’ freedom of speech and expression rights, while still making sure they maintain a healthy and tolerant campus climate.
Article three of MSU’s Anti-Discrimination Policy states that unlawful acts, such as discriminating against or harassing any University member(s) on the basis of age, color, gender identity, disability status, etc.
Journalism senior Kayla Robinson said that she would most likely talk to her professor if an issue like this arises.
Other students have ideas but don’t know exactly.
Advertising senior Aftyn Williams said “In order to report it, if I ever felt the need to report it, I don’t know where I would go — probably student services. I don’t know, an advisor.”
Steven Keeler, engineering sophomore, said “If I had a problem with someone’s thoughts or beliefs or the way they were talking I could maybe go up to the instructor after class and like to talk to them and be like, “Hey, I wanted to mention this, I wanted to say this. Or someone else mentioned or said something like this and I didn’t know how to react to that, could you help me out with that?”
Freshman Becky Beller said other than campus safe places that give students a comfortable place to go, she doesn’t know where to go to actually report incidents.
There is, in fact, a proper process to go through in order to report this.
Ande Durojaiye, director and deputy Title IX coordinator for investigations, encourages students to “Come to OIE” if they have an experience that they feel violates school policies.
The Office of Institutional Equity reviews concerns related to discrimination and harassment based on sex, gender, gender identity, race, national origin, religion, disability status, and any other category protected under the University Anti-Discrimination Policy and Policy on Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct, according to the OIE website.
OIE complaint forms are available and people can reach out to MSU’s Title IX Coordinator Jessica Norris at 517-353-3922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.