Speech codes are currently the source of much controversy in American universities. A speech code can be roughly defined as "a policy instituted by a college or university that limits or threatens to limit free expression on the part of students or members of the faculty." Descriptions of prohibited speech are often riddled with vague, imprecise vocabulary such as "offensive," "discriminatory," and "intimidating."

The most troubling problem that speech codes present is the ease of which people with certain viewpoints are silenced. Students at Colorado College who published a flyer satirizing feminism found themselves accused of disrupting the learning environment and suggesting violence. A Latin American Politics professor at Brandeis University found himself in trouble with the school's administration for criticizing (read: not condoning) the use of the derogatory term "wetbacks" to refer to migrant Mexican laborers. The president of Valerosa State University, Ronald M. Zaccari, expelled a student for protesting (on Facebook, no less) the controversial and expensive construction of a parking garage using student fees. Students producing a conservative newspaper at Tufts University were sent to a board trial for printing entirely true, albeit inflammatory, facts about the human rights violations condoned by some followers of Islam.

Another common tactic universities employ is to create "free speech areas," the only places on campus where students can enjoy their right to freedom of speech. More often than not these areas are incredibly small and require both an appointment and approval from the school's administration before actually allowing students to express their views.

An institute of higher learning can only educate its students in a meaningful way if all viewpoints are allowed to be expressed. Speech codes and similar tactics imposed by schools to limit the expression of their students are outrageous and undermine the very concept of a learning environment. The opinions of one person, no matter how reasonably they are presented, can be interpreted unreasonably by another party and the unreasonable party's interpretation is the one that speech codes will assume is justified. Such policies do not belong in any organization that aims to encourage the sharing of ideas.

case information obtained from www.thefire.org