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UT-Knoxville student chides university for its flip-flop on free speech

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It looked like a large public university was finally going to stand up for free speech. It ended up being a false alarm.

The incident occurred earlier this month at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. After someone penned the phrase “White Pride” on the university’s “Rock,” the school received a complaint via Twitter about the two words posted on the outdoor “campus message board.”

In response to the complaint, the flagship university defended free speech.

“While we sometimes disagree with what appears on the Rock, those who paint it are protected by the First Amendment. We trust that the Volunteer community will take care of this quickly,” the university tweeted from its account.

However, that tweet was later deleted. That chain of event has left one UT-Knoxville student upset with her school. In an article published by Red Alert Politics, Lexie Bess describes the university’s initial tweet as “a win for free speech” and explains her disappointment at the university’s flip-flop on the issue.

From the article:

I was proud of my school for standing up for the constitutional rights of their students, but unfortunately, the school bowed to the politically correct and unconstitutional demands of their students and removed the tweet from their account.

I was almost proud to be a student at this university again. After pushing my way through “Not my President” protests the day after the election to get to class, I thought this would be the time that my university stands for facts instead of feelings. Sadly, I was wrong.

Bess wrote that she understands the “White Pride” message might have affected some students, but she also argued “it shouldn’t make a student feel unsafe.” She writes that it’s time for colleges to stand up for the Constitution:

Although I will always be proud to say that I attend the University of Tennessee, I’m not proud of the lack of backbone displayed. Every institution that claims to educate students for a prosperous future should have the moral courage to protect speech on campus. It’s behavior such as this that makes students weaker, and unprepared to face the reality of the world that we live in today. One of those realities is that hate speech is protected under the First Amendment.

Read the entire article.

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