The Crimson White

Free speech crucial to students' growth

Carolyn Duke

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As a future teacher in America’s school systems, it is heart wrenching to know that universities have placed restrictions on freedom of speech in a setting that should foster discussion and discovery. Unfortunately here at The University of Alabama many students do not feel as if campus provides this. I couldn’t agree more when Frank LoMonte stated, “Americans need to take a collective chill pill and understand momentary lapses in taste and discretion on social media for what they are – opportunities for learning, not for expulsion or arrest.”

One of the major reasons I chose secondary education rather than early education as a major is because I believe discussion and the expansion, development, disproving and forming of opinions, beliefs and thoughts is so important to personal development.

I dream about inspiring kids to dive into their passions and concerns, but not just to learn more and experience more with what they love. If there is one thing I hope every student I have in the future leaves my classroom with, it’s this: they have a voice, and if vocalized in the right, appropriate and worthwhile form, it can be heard. No matter their background, past experiences and person, they have a voice. Though valued by me, my future students’ opinions will not be valued by everyone. Therefore I would hope to push them to research, solidify and expand their opinions so that the world has a reason to embrace their thoughts.

To know that some campuses around the nation have restricted students’ freedom of speech in order to uphold a campus image is disheartening. As Patrick Crowley, The Crimson White’s opinions editor, eloquently stated in his article last week “Continue to talk about free speech,” students need to have the opportunity to “… develop a sense of intellectual curiosity and a capability for respectful, intellectual exchange.” As a teacher, I would want to know that the students I hope to prepare for college careers would be in an 
environment that fostered discussion.

College isn’t about being safe, it’s about exploring everything. If students are looking for a quiet, uneventful college experience with a student body that doesn’t challenge them, they shouldn’t be going to college, a place that is established to expand the mind. That is why we must stand up for our right to voice ours here on campus.

There are outlets on campus to voice student’s opinions. Last Monday’s CW publication, “Chalking provides outlet for freedom of expression,” explained exactly what the title says – chalking at the University allows for freedom of speech. However, it seemed ironic that one outlet for student expression was through such an impermanent medium. Though it is difficult for students to voice opinions, there are outlets on campus like The Crimson White. But the limited speech on campus should be changed for the greater good of fostering discussion and intellectual growth.

Carolyn Duke is a sophomore majoring in secondary education – language arts. Her column runs biweekly.

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Free speech crucial to students' growth