The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities set the theme for its opening keynote discussion here Sunday well before Election Day. The topic: “Balancing Freedom of Expression and Diversity on Campuses.” The election results weren’t just the elephant in the room for the session, but were more like a herd of elephants stomping through the room. To be sure, many public universities have struggled with these issues for some time, and in particular since 2015’s protests by minority students led to widespread discussions of racial incidents on campus and on social media. In many cases, what some students saw as hate speech, university leaders and free speech advocates saw as protected speech. APLU’s members are public universities, and the First Amendment is very much a factor in how these institutions can respond.
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