Then and Now: Student Speech

Please read the requirements correct and no no no plagiarism at all this is a very big paer and grade too.

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Read the account on student speech, and then write a three to five paragraph essay in response to the following questions.

  1. Under what conditions, if any, should educational institutions place limits on students’ free speech rights?
  2. How do you think university responses to free speech controversies have changed over time?
  3. If the Berkeley case happened today, how do you think it would have been handled?

Then and Now: Student Speech

In 2013, graduating senior Pat Brown of Cicero-North Syracuse High School in upstate New York set up a controversial Twitter hashtag and began using Twitter to protest the proposed school district’s budget. Brown and his fellow students were concerned that if the district failed to negotiate a budget, the school’s athletics and extracurricular programs would be eliminated and teachers would be laid off. After sending out a tweet, while in class, suggesting that the school’s executive principal should be laid off, he was suspended for three days for violating the school’s cell-phone policy, harassing the principal, and disrupting the learning environment.

Brown’s actions generated a national news discussion about the free speech rights of students in high schools. However, controversy over students’ rights to speak out about school policies is not without precedent. The Supreme Court guaranteed the free speech rights of students in Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), and schools and communities are working to negotiate the needs of the learning environment with these student rights. Likewise, the free speech rights of students in colleges and universities have been hotly debated.

In 1964, the administration of the University of California at Berkeley banned student-conducted political activity, recruitment, donations, and speech in an entrance area of campus where these activities had previously been tolerated. Both undergraduate and graduate students were outraged by this decision and felt that administrators were prohibiting this activity due to student participation in sit-ins during the civil rights movement. Negotiations between student groups and the administration broke down. This situation led to the student Free Speech Movement, an organized effort to peacefully protest the university’s decision. Students blockaded a police car for thirty-two hours, staged sit-ins, and staged an upper-class student and teaching assistant strike—all in an effort to get the university’s administration to rescind its decision and allow students to be politically active on campus. In one particular sit-in in December, several thousand students occupied Sproul Plaza. Movement leader Mario Savio, who was known for civil rights activism, gave rousing speeches protesting the university’s decision. Savio criticized the administration for the way it was treating the students and for its heavy-handed approach to the situation. In the aftermath of this protest, 800 students were arrested. Later in December, the faculty voted and convinced the administration to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s rules on free speech.

Both Brown and Savio’s situations revealed students’ discontent with school policy and raised the question of how schools and colleges should handle students’ political speech within their institutions. While Brown’s situation did not provoke arrests, it did—like Savio’s situation—open a wider and ongoing discussion about the place of student speech about political issues. Both Savio’s speeches and Brown’s tweets quickly gained the attention of a wider audience. However, in Brown’s case, this was due to the use of social media technology, rather than the development of a wider protest. Despite changing technology, the question regarding the protection of student speech is an ongoing challenge for the development of civil liberties.