Campus Free Speech

Fundamental First Amendment principles of free speech are being tested nationwide on college campuses causing colleges and universities to examine their speech policies. This Policy Lab practicum examines Stanford University’s speech policies and make recommendations, as necessary, for revisions. The research addresses: (1) changing legal requirements, including California’s Leonard Law and recent First Amendment cases, (2) the need to protect students and other members of the Stanford community from abusive speech, (3) the best practices of other universities, (4) the need on the part of students and administrators alike for greater clarity and transparency, and (5) the statements by President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell on the importance of both freedom of speech and civility and inclusion on the Stanford campus.

Working with the Stanford General Counsel’s Office as a policy client, the research team will develop an advisory report on policies and rules regarding:

(1) posting of controversial materials in various locations on campus

(2) invitation of outside speakers

(3) direct targeting of abusive speech against students and other community members

(4) disruption of the speech of others

(5) speech, including posting of materials on campus, by persons with no connection to Stanford

(6) procedures for expeditious resolution of conflicts involving speech

(7) counseling and other non-punitive measures

(8) funding of controversial student activities

(9) measures to protect the ability of vulnerable minorities to associate and speak freely on matters of common concern

Graduate students from Law, Public Policy, and social science disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Law students wishing to undertake R credit will perform additional research for a full report analyzing the issues and results of the collective research. R credit is possible only by consent of the instructor. After the term begins, and with the consent of the instructor, students accepted into the course may transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement.

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