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Fara Cohen, Griesing Law Fara Cohen, Griesing Law

Prominent social and political figures have been asked to speak at colleges and universities for decades. Even though these speeches have been occurring for years, there is no doubt that the current political climate has resulted in increasingly polarized viewpoints and heightened uproar over the invitation of certain individuals to campus. From alt-right leader Richard Spencer at Michigan State University to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Assembly leader Ian Calderon at Whitter College in California, protests against speakers on college campuses have been headlining the news. Unfortunately, the various ways in which colleges and universities are responding to these incidents has resulted in confusion regarding the law as it relates to free speech. As a result, the confidence of students’ security in the First Amendment has dropped significantly. A recent Gallup survey of 3,014 U.S. college students is telling; of those surveyed, 73 percent of students believed freedom of speech was secure in 2016 compared to 64 percent now; and, in 2016, 81 percent of students believed freedom of the press was secure, down to only 60 percent now.

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