University of Texas Policy Says No to ‘Rude’ Speech; Speech First Files Lawsuit

Within the past week, the nonprofit organization, Speech First filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin —”Speech First v. Fenves et. al” in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

In a press release, Speech First explains what they believe to be troublesome policies currently on the books at the University of Texas at Austin, while arguing that there are numerous and significant revisions needed:

Through the use of four policies – the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities ban on “verbal harassment,” the Acceptable Use Policy, the Residence Hall Manual, and the Campus Climate Response Team – the University of Texas has created an elaborate investigatory and disciplinary apparatus to suppress, punish, and deter speech that students may deem “offensive,” “biased,” “uncivil,” or “rude.” As used, these concepts capture staggering amounts of protected speech and expression because the school fails to provide sufficiently narrow definitions for these highly subjective terms – creating a serious risk that these provisions will be enforced in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner, or will be used to target speech based on the viewpoint expressed.

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