SAF-UT Opposes Proposed Speech Codes · 01 April 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

University of Texas Chapter
For Immediate Release
April 4, 2004

Contact:
Brendan Steinhauser, Media Director, (512) 458-0252, bstein80@yahoo.com
Erin Randall, President, (512) 771-1686, erinkelly@mail.utexas.edu

SAF-UT Opposes Proposed Speech Codes

Austin, Texas-The UT-Austin chapter of Students for Academic Freedom announced today its opposition to certain recommendations of the UT Task Force on Racial Respect and Fairness authorized by UT President Larry Faulkner. One of the eighty proposals includes the creation of a speech code improperly called an "honor code." "Restrictions on non-seditious or non-libelous speech, especially at public universities, are inimical to academic freedom", said SAF President Erin Randall.

"The university ostensibly wants to create a more diverse and comforting atmosphere for certain minority groups, but is stifling those same students' speech rights", said Brendan Steinhauser, the founder of the group.

President Faulkner is expected to make an official statement on the task force recommendations soon. The report was commissioned due to three incidents cited as racially charged. These include the egging of the Martin Luther King statue, a racial profiling charge against UTPD and "racially offensive" behavior at two off-campus fraternity parties. While no one has been found responsible for the statue incident, the students involved in the fraternity party have been internally reprimanded. The UT Police Department has not determined the veracity of the profiling incident.

"Outlawing offensive language will not prevent vandalism against statues or affect UTPD policy in any way. These proposals punish all students for the misbehavior of a small minority," said Leonard Cash.

"These recommendations are simply a ridiculous response to isolated incidents. Obstructing our free speech is a part of the process of institutionalizing political correctness" remarked Zach Stephenson.

The honor code would require all incoming freshman to sign an affidavit before enrolling at UT, and all student organizations would have to sign and abide by every part of the honor code. If a complaint was issued against a student or student group, they would have to face an "honor council", an eerie name for an intimidating body. The members of Students for Academic Freedom adamantly oppose such recommendations and call on concerned taxpayers and parents to contact their state representative and senator about the issue.

"What if a university 'honor code' required incoming freshmen to sign affidavits that they were not communists? What will happen if some admitted freshmen refuse to sign? Will they not be allowed to enroll?" asked Clark Patterson, SAF member.

The full report can be examined at the following website: http://www.utexas.edu/opa/news/04newsreleases/nr_200401/report_respect.pdf

Students for Academic Freedom is a national coalition of independent campus groups dedicated to restoring academic freedom and educational values to America's institutions of higher learning. www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org