Demand Accountability for Anti-Free Speech Disruptors at UNC

Stand with Speech First and demand the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill enforces its Free Speech Policy. 

The right to free speech does not mean the right to silence others. Campus policies and State laws that protect the right to free speech on campus mean nothing if they are never enforced.

On January 22nd, members of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) shouted down journalist Bari Weiss on the UNC-Chapel Hill Campus.

We filed a formal complaint on January 31st outlining the students’ blatant disregard for North Carolina’s Campus Free Speech Act and UNC’s policy on Free Speech and Expression that both outline disciplinary sanctions for anyone who disrupts a formal speaker event.

The perpetrators’ self-described (and pre-coordinated) “walkout” against speaker Bari Weiss was, in actuality, a full-blown shout down and a deliberate attempt to suppress free speech. They halted the event for several minutes with their disruptive behavior and had to be escorted out by campus police. Furthermore, the SJP members made a concerted effort to accumulate as many tickets and seats as possible to prevent their peers from attending the event, forcing the university to halt advanced registration.

This violation of the North Carolina Campus Free Speech Act is not only unacceptable, but it also demands accountability. The students involved in this orchestrated shout-down must face disciplinary action for breaching campus policy and state law.

Furthermore, a formal investigation into the SJP chapter’s potential conspiracy to disrupt the event is necessary. If state law or university policy was violated, the organization should face consequences, including the revocation of its club status.

As a staunch advocate for free speech, we will vigilantly monitor the University’s response to this incident as well as whether it takes its own policies and state laws seriously enough to enforce them.

Cherise Trump
Executive Director
Speech First