What Purdue students are being asked about free speech on campus
Thanks this morning to sponsor Stuart & Branigin for support to help make this edition of the Based in Lafayette reporting project possible.
WHAT PURDUE STUDENTS ARE BEING ASKED ABOUT FREE SPEECH ON CAMPUS
On Tuesday, the same day a Vice President Mike Pence speech at the University of Virginia generated protests and renewed debates over freedom of expression on campus, at Purdue, the walk between the Bell Tower and the Wilmeth Active Learning Center had its regular cast of student groups recruiting for members and assorted provocateurs stirring the pot.
It’s the best place to catch the guy who wants to argue that the moon landings were fake or hear the howls as masses of undergrads circle Brother Jed Smock whenever the evangelist plies his schtick about the evils of yoga pants and tossing around fevered insults about students going to the fiery pit for being whoremongers. (Brother Jed and Sister Cindy weren’t there this day, but their take on godly ways has generated their own debates over reasonable speech on campus through the years.)
Among them on this day: A flag-waving adherent to the satirical conspiracy theory, Birds Aren’t Real.
“He could have a point,” Alex Cox, a Purdue junior, said. “I’ll take a closer look next time I see a bird and get back with you.”
In student inboxes, meanwhile, was a survey about just how open Purdue was to free speech in classrooms and across the West Lafayette campus. The same was true at other public universities across the state, including IU, where the Bloomington campus was having discussions of their own about freedom of expression and the hecklers’ veto over a visit last week by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.
The survey is part of a state law, pressed by legislators who questioned whether certain voices were being shut out of college campus appearances or overrun in the classroom.