Having over 60,000 students at one university provides quite the open forum for debate and public discourse. Now, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, ASU is one of the nation’s seven best colleges for free speech.
From the apartheid wall to Israel Peace Week to protestors pretending to lay dead during an Arizona Board of Regents meeting, students have been able to vocalize their opinion across the ASU campus.
FIRE used to have ASU as one of the worst schools in terms of free speech, but a change in a university policy in January took away viewpoint restrictions in advertising and posting. The change placed ASU as the only Arizona university to make the list and the largest public college on the list. The other colleges included Dartmouth College, the College of William and Mary, the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the University of Virginia. ASU doesn’t appear to be the type of school to end up on this kind of list, but it makes sense after reviewing the number of free speech presentations. The Tempe SlutWalk, the protests of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, support of the DREAM Act: The list keeps adding up.
Sixty thousand voices shout out 60,000 different opinions.
Of course, not all 60,000 students are involved, but all students have the opportunity. Even a passerby in front of the Memorial Union has the chance to debate religious acceptance and the possibilities of Heaven and Hell or sing in the Danforth Chapel. This is ASU in 2011, and it’s the ASU we want. The rising debate shows ASU’s diverse range of cultures and is a step toward this New American University.
Now can it continue to grow? Can small demonstrations turn into large masses with the right cause? As one of the best free speech colleges in the country, hopefully we soon will find out.