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Green light? Checking UNH's free speech grade

May 15. 2018 8:55PM

We give University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston an “A” for effort when it comes to free speech on campus.

But when it comes to actually implementing the school’s policies to protect free speech, he needs improvement.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recently upgraded UNH to a “green light” campus, meaning that it does not have speech codes that would threaten the First Amendment rights of students, faculty, or visitors. Dartmouth and Keene State College have “red light” ratings. Plymouth State is in the green.

Huddleston says improving the school’s rating was a priority for him before he retires this spring. And he deserves praise for doing so.

But Huddleston has fallen short on following through on these principles.

In September, UNH started an investigation when some students complained about a sorority singing along to a Kanye West song.

Earlier this month, protesters tried to shut down a speaker invited by Turning Point USA. The group alleges that a faculty member led students in disrupting the event, yet UNH has done nothing to address what would be a violation of university policy.

If UNH is unwilling to enforce its “green light” policies, and override the heckler’s veto, Huddleston and his successor have more work to do.

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