Free speech on college campuses: A bottom-up approach is best | Emily Chamlee-Wright

Free speech on college campuses: A bottom-up approach is best | Emily Chamlee-Wright

What should governance of campus speech look
like? One is a morality and order paradigm, which
is to say, let’s make sure that any campus speech that we do have is the kind of speech
that we would really want our students to hear, and let’s make sure that we have policies
and practices in place that ensure that everything they hear is appropriate. The problem is, if we take that approach too
far– if, for example, we give to an administrator, or a central committee, the authority to determine
what should be said, and what shouldn’t be said on campus– what students should hear
and what students shouldn’t hear on campus, that means that, if they make a mistake, it’s
going to be campus-wide. There’s no there’s no correcting of that mistake. And so, what I would prefer is a much more
bottom-up approach to speech governance on campus. And a bottom-up approach really, in some ways,
mirrors what Oliver Wendell Holmes articulated in his very famous dissenting opinion in the
1919 Supreme Court case of Abrams vs. the United States, in which he said, the ultimate
good really comes from free trade in ideas. And that marketplace of ideas, that idea really
started to change our approach to free speech across the country in the latter half of the
20th century– that we became freer and freer in this respect, that we became less focused
on tightening up the morality and order associated with free speech, and more having a default
of permissibility It’s not an anything goes proposition, it’s not saying that there is
nothing governing speech on campus. It means that there are hundreds, maybe even
thousands, of different nodal points of governance. So in the case of a university, you have hundreds,
perhaps thousands of faculty members. Each of them access their own little gatekeeper,
in a way. Perhaps a better word than gatekeeper is curator. All faculty on campus are curators of speech. They think really hard about what goes on
their syllabus, and their reading list. They think really hard about their assignments. They think hard about what guest speakers
they might invite into their classroom, and not. That’s a curatorial process, and it’s a governance
process, and they are acting as gatekeepers. They’re using their authority, their expertise,
to say, you know what? That person over there is a credible scholar
that I want to either add to my syllabus, or add as a guest speaker, and they’re making
that judgment on their own. Now, they may make a mistake. They may let in someone who perhaps didn’t
have the credibility that they originally thought, or they may miss people who really
merit a hearing, but they were perhaps too narrow in their thinking to invite that person,
or to add that person to their reading list. The discursive space of the campus environment
is still contestable. It’s still open for other points of view to
come in. If I misslet’s say I’m too ideological in
my choice of speakers or readingsand I miss some really good people at a different place
in the ideological spectrum. If I fail in that regard, someone else can
pick up the slack. Someone else can notice, ‘hey, noone else
is really assigning this really important debate or reading, or inviting that speaker
to come to campus’. So that’s what I mean about contestability,
that we need to have a discursive space that’s contestable so that error correction can take
place. An additional advantage is that it’s much
less susceptible to corruption. If you have a centralized approach to campus
speech governance– let’s say it’s one administrator who gets to make the choices of who gets a
speaking slot on campus or one committee that approves what can and cannot be assigned on
a syllabus for a class, for example. Now that would mean that there is tremendous
power concentrated in the hands of that administrator. Now you might say, well, let’s fix that by
having a faculty committee be the central focus, the central authority that governs
speech in this way. Still, even that centralized authority is
then going to become a source point potentially for ideological faction to take hold. And it doesn’t matter which side the ideological
corruption comes from, from the political left or the political right. It’s a problem either way. And so what I favor is a bottom-up governance
process, where if we’re members of the campus community we become a part of the curatorial
process. But none of us has so much power that we can
corrupt it.


  1. Colleges turned into a leftist mess.

    Untill they grow up and discover how the world is hard and doesn’t care about your ideals.

  2. What utter leftist BULLSHIT. You know college campuses are FILLED with lefty retards. So you want the crowd to be in charge of speech. Well here's mine. Go fuck yourself. Free speech on campus. Period. During class the professor can be in charge of speech as they do need the authority to teach.
    But your idiot idea of letting the masses control speech… Are you seriously so stupid you don't read history. Or dumb enough to realize that groups cannot be held responsible, so giving them responsibilities that are inherently opposed to individual freedom, is a shit idea.
    Jesus woman, get a grip on reality.

  3. How about we just let people say what they want. The only way to stomp out bad ideas is with better ideas, not forbidding people from speaking

  4. Free speech, whether it's left or right should be allowed everywhere. As long as speaker doesn't start generalizing groups of people.

  5. All what she said is based on assumption that students can't think for themselves.
    Worst thing is that she's probably right.

  6. When rich white California Liberals who have 10 foot high walls around their homes, claim walls are Immoral…yeah…I dont think they have any right to lecture people on what Morality is.

  7. Or you can just stop letting feelings get in the way of the hard truth… censorship should never be welcome on our college campuses.

  8. Funny how, after demanding Big Gov control everyone for a decade, they now want a "ground up" approach…has nothing to do with Trump pulling funding from colleges that censor free speech, I'm sure, lol 🤣

  9. This idea hinges on the assumption that college faculty and administration aren't heavily ideologically biased in one direction or the other. Too bad they are

  10. Bottom up sounds like it might work, except if you consider the political skew on campus being somewhere about 90% to 95% to the left among the faculty. When you are 1 out of 10 or 20, you simply run out of bandwidth presenting alternatives to the near constant left speech. And we also see instances of the heckler's veto, where even those few conservative voices get actively drowned out simply by making noise.

  11. I am a person with special needs and special abilities.

    But there is nothing special when somebody cannot

    do things in the level of expert, or does not have any needs

    associated with their expertise.

    My special ability is that I am a Mathematician.

    My special needs are a quite room with my books

    to do my research and have some time playing

    a musical instrument.

    This is special.

    The problem with the English Language is that English words have not etymology.

    Other Languages like the Greek Language ( Ancient and Modern as well )

    have mathematical structure and by this, every word is generated by others,

    exactly as the definitions in any Axiomatic Theory.

    Everyone who is familiar with Mathematics can understand this.

    Of course, the English Language is influenced by the Greek Language and

    many words originated from the Greek Language have the Greek etymology

    as well, but this must be a rule if we want the English Language to evolve

    and become as strong as the Greek Language.

    After that, it will be very difficult for the Special Interested Groups to

    change the meaning of the words, as long as etymology will provide their meaning.

  12. All these comments about some absolute right to free speech sound lovely. I would be fore it. BUT you forget that most students in a four year program are still minors and/or under parental control. As an associate professor at a four year liberal arts institution, I repeatedly see parents demanding their two cents. This happens across the country. Their influence varies from campus to campus, from issue to issue. But it cannot be ignored.

  13. This is complete BS. With the exception of inciting violence, or stating things that are objectively false, all speech should be free.
    If speech can be curtailed because it's not liked by an individual or a particular demographic, then that is not free speech. Also, by what Authority does anybody have the right to restrict or censor who gets to speak and what they are allowed to say.? This reeks of authoritarianism, if not totalitarianism. Colleges are there for young people to expand their minds, as well as to be exposed to new ideas and methods of thought. This cannot be successfully obtained, without free speech. I'm sure I left some things out, but I challenge anyone to show me where I am wrong.

  14. Don't wait for Universities to teach you. Learn from all sources and cross reference truth and lies.
    Truth: Columbia U's president is linked to Federal Reserve. He makes millions. Most students owe massive debt.

  15. I mean, it’s been about 10 years since I’ve left school in Germany. But I’m pretty damn sure my history classes (which consisted mostly of Nazi Germany and Cold War from age 16 on) would treat her speech as what it is: a collection of propaganda and euphemisms in the name of „right“ speech. Horrible, really.

    There is „hate speech“ of course. The uproar is deserved if somebody compares refugees to rats or something (happened In Austria a few days ago), but this here is completely ludicrous. It is a one sided, unacademic approach and the opposite of free.

    She obviously read Orwell well and practiced key elements of Goebbels speeches probably better than many. Apparently she didn’t understand the logic behind it though.

    It is a tyranny of majority on campuses. Basically the opposite of protecting minority opinions.

  16. Medieval will be here as long as we remain trapped
    in the vicious circle of heat and revenge.
    Mathematics teach Humanity to use reason in order to decide what is correct.
    There is not such a thing like offensive proof, political correct proof,
    angry proof, calm proof, spiritual proof, racist proof, feminism proof,
    #MeToo proof, gay proof, sexist proof, appropriate proof, etc.
    The Proof is a step forward once forever.

  17. Why the title is free speech on college campuses? It should be – Censorship on college campuses – a bottom-up approach is best.

  18. for a channel that promotes big ideas, this one has the dumbest and least nuanced comments section. Free speech doesn't mean colleges have to invite any random Joe to be a guest speaker. There is time and money involved in organizing any speaking engagements. Giving a stage to any willing participant is not anyone's obligation.

  19. This whole monologue is useless. It is extremely simple, unless you are breaking an existing criminal law, it is free speech, period. It is not that complicated god damnit!!!

  20. alr-right-wingers are cry babies. First they complain about campuses blocking them from speaking. Then when they do get approved to speak, they get mad because of low turn-out. Maybe no one wants to listen to the dumb sh*t coming out of your mouths?

  21. Lol, at the comments completely missing her point. Name me a single institution with completely free speech. You don't achieve an outcome by designing for an ideal, achieve an outcome by designing for reality.

  22. WTF!!! 1000s of little bottom-up university censors? I got an idea, how about just don't censor any of it. ZERO censors. That is what free speech actually is.

  23. This lady looks like she lives in a echo chamber, and her ideas sound like "How can we get people to say what we want them to say so we don't have to worry about them speaking?"

  24. Such a fail straight from the get go. Using feelings as a metric is a short cut to censorship. Its honestly not hard. As long as you are not inciting violence you are good to go. If someone wants to say something stupid, rude or bigoted then let them do that and deal with the social consequences and that way everyone learns. Life isn't a safe space and if university is preparing you for adulthood, it shouldn't be either.

  25. How about you just have free speech and if somebody supports something immoral then they are punished appropriately? No censorship; just be reasonable, good people.

  26. Unsure why this is getting disliked so much. She is mostly speaking against the idea of any centralised censorship authority.
    Perhaps the way she talks about the faculty as 'nodes' free to make their own decisions sounds like justifying their authority, but in this video it is mostly in the context of that vs a central governance.

    Sounded to me like she was arguing heavily for a 'marketplace of ideas'.

  27. So isn't she basically saying we should respect people's bodies and property rights and not give anyone or any group of people the power to censor others? If so, then 100% agreed! #Voluntaryism

  28. What we been doing is fine
    The only ones complaining are the ones who are having bad ideas and nobody really wants to listen to them. Weather that is people on the far right or feminazis.

  29. How can someone think that less top down control is better without coming to the obvious conclusion that removing the control all together is just everyone controling thier own speech and what they hear??

    Its the logical conclusion here, theres no ballance to be struck. If the expression of any idea is unpallatable to you, leave or suck it up. its actually that simple.
    If your too weak to tollerate ideas your too weak to be part of our gene pool

  30. I had to listen to this video twice to filter through all the unrelenting and unnecessary verbiage that was spewed forth by this person of higher intellect.

    The sum of this talk can be summed up as this; should university administrators be allowed to censor speech or should their be a democratic approach and allow everyone at the university (students and faculty) a chance to have a say on what speech should be censored. Her answer is to use the democratic approach.

    What she fails to understand is that if the majority of people at a university are not open to new ideas, then they will never learn new ideas as they censor anything that opposes their beliefs.

    Having attended university many years ago, my idea of a university and how learning was to be done there was to be subjected to new ideas which forced the mind to grow and expanded the student’s mind. Without new and contrary ideas being brought into a student’s mind, their is no growth and no tolerance of people with opposing viewpoints. People like this woman want people to only be taught the “correct” ideas so that they are nothing more than automatons who mindless regurgitate whatever is told to them. This is not learning.

  31. Ok Emily. Let the hordes of post-modern Bolsheviks in campuses dictate what is appropriate and what is not and see where it will end. Why do you think it takes so many words to explain and justify such an …… idea?

  32. I feel like a lot of the commenters listened to the first 30 seconds and decided they knew what the rest of the video would be, but her point seems to be that deciding for the entire campus what is and isn't permissible is bad, and instead it should be left to the professors to decide their own policies for their classes, which is fine I think? It's about giving them the choice in terms of who to invite and what readings to assign, which is how college is supposed to work.

  33. Is comment discussion restricted to topics or subject matter of the videos or is there free range within the comments as they are merely another open quasi public space for congregation of ideas? There is the obvious issue as coming off as having Aspergers and failing to yield to social norms of contextual awareness but isn't social conformity just supporting a coercive power structure which seeks to limit the organization of the oppressed and the top down controlling of the narrative?

  34. Less than 30 seconds in and I'm disgusted. "The kind of speech we would really want our students to hear". That approach is to far on any level. We already have gate keepers they're called progressives. Swamp donkies,Antifa, feminists etc.

  35. Speech governance is not a thing in a free society, how is this woman talking about free speech in the same sentence as talking about speech governance?

  36. All speech should be allowed. Period. If feelings get hurt… grow a backbone. If you need administrators to regulate speech so you have a "safe space", perhaps you shouldn't be in a place where we're supposed to discuss ideas openly.

  37. Free speech should go beyond the first amendment to the point where it is not allowed to discriminate against ideas even if those ideas are borderline religiously 'evil'. Also if you are talking about debates then morality is irrelevant in 95% of those discussions and only facts, reason, interpretation, and logic should be allowed.

    Also there should only be a debate if there is a consensus among the student body thay they want those particular speakers. If not that then have the students suggest people to come and you invite them to debate. The faculty should not be the mandators of debate. Sorry but that is like saying the state has the right to tell you what you can say and to that I will take a quote from bill hicks and add an extra line or two

    Go back to be america your country has control again
    Go back to bed america your country is in control again
    You are free america to do as we tell you
    You are free america to do as we say

    And to that I say

    'Fuck you'

    Let's bring back true democratic debates and actually use some common sense.

  38. Great job y'all, yet again misunderstanding and misinterpreting someone's ideas. She's talking about making speech more open and free by decentralizing it yet you take that as some sort of attack on the first amendment or something. Good job not putting in the effort to listen carefully & piece together someone's argument

  39. Free speech is regarding things like people speaking or handing out pamphlets on a campus street corner, without the permission of anyone associated with the University.

  40. I am going to leave some links as research starters here, for anyone who
    is interested in learning about John Stuart Mill's argument for freedom
    of speech(as necessary for truth, knowledge and the 'good') and Ronald Dworkin's Right to Moral Independence (which is your entitlement to hold moral preferences(opinions, beliefs) that others may deem ignoble, immoral or disgusting, and NOT have them disadvantage you in the distribution of social goods).

    Mill on the Principle of Harm is of particular relevance:

    Mill on Liberty and Freedom of Speech is helpful:

    Dworkin on Rights and Reasons – Section 5:

     Good luck!

  41. Start teaching Civics in elementary school. That is bottom up.
    Obviously students are arriving at college not knowing what free speech truly is. They encounter far left professors of the humanities and the result is the exclusionary, intolerant, racist, angry and toxic student body you have on campuses now.

  42. Please explain to me – If a university can only accommodate 10 speakers per year due to room / time / budget constraints – how do you then choose who should give a speech without any filtering/decision/"censorship" system in place?

  43. college/university isnt publicly funded. its a private institution. therefore freedom of speech does not extend to it. plain and simple. now if the government wants to start funding it like elementary and secondary schools, then free speech would extend. but they dont so it doesnt. fucking deal with it dumb asses.

  44. “Let’s make any campus speech the kind students would want to hear” i think that’s called selective free speech

  45. so she expresses approval for the free exchange of ideas and a “bottom-up” approach to governance, and then her suggestion is that EVERY faculty member should be able to to censor whatever speaker the students invite. How can she be so deluded as to not see the extent to which she contradicts herself? she is utterly incoherent

  46. I understand now.

    She once held high level positions in her institution.

    If you let the person lower down on the totem pole be responsible for censoring people, then the people higher up cannot be held responsible (and therefore be targeted for legal actions)

    Way to try and diffuse responsibility lady.

  47. Okay so after watching this twice I sort of agree with her. The first half of this is so poorly done. It seems her position is "let professors be the ones who decide what they teach" I dont understand how she started this out so badly though.

  48. I think that the up vote to down vote ratio speaks to what I'll call the "academic silencer fatigue" of your audience. I have it too. But I *don't think that decentralizing the power to choose who can and can not speak is a bad idea*. The problem that I see with the approach is reprisal from the left against professors who don't toe the line. They've gotten awfully toxic. I agree with the principle, and I don't have a better solution. The problem is a tough one because you also can't have open sign ups for anyone who wants to stand in front of an audience and pitch their idea/product.

  49. Just no. Colleges aren't supposed to be pampering brainwashing institutions. They're supposed to inspire critical debates of all positions.

  50. University is a single institution where power should already be decentralized in individuals. These Koch puppets just want to censor students by preventing bottom-up centralization or aggregation of power. The free speech theme is pure propaganda by free market elites to control American institutions and thought.

    BigThink sucks for allowing the repetition of the same message through differing faces and topics, all tied to the exact same billionaire. Even participating further with confusing titles: of course "a bottom-up approach is best", but the lady isn't suggesting such Democracy; which would devastate Koch's profit.

  51. There is already top down curated speech in the US. Here are some things that are NOT free speech in US universities. You cannot plagiarize, plagiarism is NOT free speech. Threatening to kill your teacher if s/he doesn't give you better grades is NOT free speech. Lying on your financial aid forms is fraud, and fraud is NOT free speech. So you don't really need campus governance, the government is already funding them and already has laws on what is and is not free speech.

    If some admin wants to add rules to censorship and language policing, I am cool with that so long as that university doesn't receive government funding. You want to police it, you have to pay for that.

  52. Okay, I think students shouldnt hear anti free speech arguements. That I think is where we should start. Now get TEACHER LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE

    Also this bottom up approach sounds very much like mob rule.

  53. Yes making it so you can only say what people with power want you to is definitely the direction we need to go, you just need to cut your hair a bit shorter and grow a small mustache and you will look like the perfect leader for such a movement.

  54. Free speech is absolute.
    Hate speech is a misnomer.
    You’re pushing a losing ideology.

  55. “Governance” of “free speech” is an oxymoron.
    There is no error in a discursive space if it is based on principles of free speech.
    There is no corruption in a marketplace of ideas.
    There can be no error of judgment in free speech as implicitly there is no judgment in the notion of free speech.
    If free speech is curated, it is not free speech.

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