How should campuses respond when hate speech turns violent?

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    Article is from Hechinger Report newsletter and offers a great starting point for discussion on this topic.

    By Meredith Kolodner
    Just before hateful ideology turned into murderous action in London last week, our columnist Andre Perry wrote about how racist speech on campuses has turned violent in some places. He raised important questions about responding to hate speech, in the context of most universities’ desire to protect free speech on campus.

    In May, a white supremacist student at the University of Maryland-College Park killed Richard W. Collins III, 23, a soon-to-be graduate of nearby Bowie State University. Maryland’s Black Student Union welcomed many aspects of the university’s response to the murder, but also demanded that it “clearly define hate speech and not merely address it as a form of freedom of speech.”

    Last week, an African-American Princeton professor, who had criticized President Trump during a commencement speech at Hamilton College, became the target of racist hate speech and death threats. She made the decision to cancel several subsequent campus visits that were planned to promote her new book, From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation.

    These incidents are not confined to college campuses – there was, for example, the attack in Portland, where two commuters who tried to stop a man from berating two girls he thought were Muslim were stabbed to death. But colleges have historically prided themselves as bastions of free thought and free speech.

    I’d welcome hearing your thoughts on how universities should handle the intersection of hate speech, the effort to promote vigorous debate and the danger of violent action.

    And if you have any ideas, thoughts and/or story suggestions, please email me at [email protected] or touch base on Twitter @merkolodner.

    You can read high-quality news about innovation and inequality in education at The Hechinger Report. And you can support our work – donate today and become a Hechinger member.

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