Halloween on college campuses is becoming risky business. Over at Ricochet, Greg details how every year, like clockwork, administrators in higher education take it upon themselves to police the sensitivities (read: restrict the expressive activity) of their students during Halloween. Greg demonstrates how colleges’ attempts to prevent “offensive costumes” (often with threats of punitive action) are actually teaching students the wrong lessons about their rights. With tongue in cheek, Greg recalls his favorite example from over the years:
At the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), we’ve become accustomed to yearly campus kerfuffles over “insensitive” Halloween costumes. My favorite over the years comes from Syracuse University, which has twice topped our list of worst schools for freedom of speech. In 2010, Department of Public Safety Chief Anthony Callisto warned students, “If we detect that there’s a person with an offensive costume, we’d likely require them to remove it, and we would file a judicial complaint…There are costumes that could be very offensive to members of protected class communities.” There are so many things wrong—and creepy—about the thought of campus police demanding that students immediately remove their sexy Pocahontas costumes, but only some of them are related to free speech.
Greg is a guest contributor to Ricochet this week. Greg was invited to discuss the themes of his new book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. His first four posts are already live, and we encourage you to check them out. Ricochet is a unique site where “the conversation” is the main focus. Contributors like Greg are encouraged to write short posts to spark a conversation and to stay active in responding to comments. While anyone can view the conversations, you have to be a Ricochet member to write comments.