Natalie Le, who is a Campus Coordinator, Speak Freely Advocate, and a blogger for Students for Liberty, has been advocating for students’ right to free speech and expression at Harvard, where she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in government.
She was published in the Crimson on April 5th, 2017. Her article is titled, “Harvard Is No Friend of Free Speech“, and explains how Harvard “has speech codes that clearly infringe upon students’ First Amendment rights. One example is Harvard’s racial harassment policy, which bars students from “using racial epithets, making racially derogatory remarks, and using racial stereotypes.” The wording used in this speech code is far too vague and therefore threatens students’ free speech rights.
Natalie goes on to say, “Harvard is a private institution and is not legally bound by the First Amendment. However, Harvard is considered to be an institution that encourages America’s best and brightest to pursue truth. In order to do so effectively, Harvard must foster diversity in intellectual thought and therefore respect students’ right to free speech, regardless of how different and controversial it may be.”
She concludes the piece by saying, “Why must we embrace free speech? Colleges and universities afford students the opportunity to voluntarily exchange ideas that help them to mature intellectually and prepare for life after graduation. That is why it is crucial for campus speech codes to reflect the First Amendment. If administrators continue to coddle students and impose unnecessary bans that impede the free exchange of thoughts and ideas, how can we expect them to create value in society? As Erika Christakis, a former Yale College faculty member, stated in her open letter, “Free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society.”’
Her piece stirred an important dialogue about free speech among Harvard students and administrators, and thus Natalie earned media coverage from USA Today and Rare for her efforts in promoting students’ right to speak freely on campus. She was also a guest on The Tyler Cralle Show to discuss the ongoing problem of college and universities trying to shut down free speech and what impact the latest SCOTUS ruling on free speech might have on campus.
With the help of Students for Liberty, Natalie will continue to advocate for the preservation of free speech at Harvard.