The freedom to speak openly, without fear of reprisal, is one of the great defining characteristics of our country. Nowhere is this freedom more crucial than the arena of higher education. Whether seeking a degree in the arts or sciences, philosophy or physics, students who venture off to college share one thing in common—their thirst for knowledge. However, this pursuit of knowledge can, and does, cause students to confront unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and sometimes unpleasant material. In college classrooms, cafeterias, and quads across the country, students have begun seeking shelter from thoughts and ideas that might make them uncomfortable. Lately, these shelters have been taking the form of “safe spaces”—areas where students can come together and be protected from hearing viewpoints or opinions that might upset them. However, when “safe spaces” limit what can be spoken or expressed in a public arena, they have the potential to infringe upon students’ First Amendment right of free speech. This Note argues that using “safe spaces” to limit, restrict, or punish what students can say on public college and university campuses violates the First Amendment.
John L. Magistro IV, FIRST AMENDMENT LAW—FREE SPEECH AND HIGHER EDUCATION: CAN PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES USE “SAFE SPACE” POLICIES TO RESTRICT SPEECH ON CAMPUSES?, 41 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 371 (2019), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol41/iss2/6