More on speech codes: Georgia Tech Revises Speech Policies

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Aug 17 13:19:43 UTC 2006

Georgia Tech Revises Speech Policies in Response to Lawsuit

In response to a lawsuit filed by the leaders of two conservative student
groups, the Georgia Institute of Technology agreed this week to change
portions of a speech policy for students living in on-campus housing that
lawyers had challenged as unconstitutional, The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution reports. On Monday, a federal judge ordered Georgia
Tech to abide by that agreement and put the speech code under judicial
supervision, meaning the university will have to go to the judge if it
wants to change the policy in the next five years.

The university amended the code by taking out wording that prohibits
students from any attempt to injure, harm or malign a person because of
race, religious belief, color, sexual/affectational orientation, national
origin, disability, age or gender. The speech-code issue was just one of a
list of complaints brought by the student-group leaders, who say
university policies intended to protect students from intolerance end up,
instead, discriminating against conservative students who speak out
against homosexuality, feminism, and other issues.

David A. French, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian
legal-advocacy group that is representing the students, called the court
order a win for free speech. Georgia Tech officials said they could not
comment because the lawsuit is still pending. Georgia Tech is not alone as
a target of such litigation. Pennsylvania State University agreed in May
to revise its policies on nondiscrimination and intolerance after facing a
similar lawsuit (The Chronicle, May 25).  Two years ago, a federal judge
struck down free-speech zones at Texas Tech University (The Chronicle,
October 4, 2004), and, in a legal settlement with a free-speech advocacy
group, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania agreed to alter its campus
code of conduct (The Chronicle, February 25, 2004).

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