Free Speech Group Suing University Over Rule Allowing Students to Report ‘Bias’ That Hurts Their ‘Feelings’

Speech First, a legal group dedicated to protecting free speech, is suing the University of Michigan, claiming that its harassment policy violates the First Amendment by allowing people to report incidents of perceived bias based on their feelings:

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The group’s Tuesday suit claims the university advises students: “The most important indication of bias is your own feelings.” After a student files their complaint, a “Bias Response Team” can threaten the offending student with disciplinary action unless they undergo “individual education,” “unconscious bias training,” or “restorative justice.”

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“Under this regime, the most sensitive student on campus effectively dictates the terms under which others may speak,” the lawsuit argues. The policy, according to Speech First, is too vague, chills free speech, and blocked some the group’s members from speaking on certain topics:

In light of these policies, Speech First members enrolled at Michigan have abstained from speaking on topics including immigration, identity politics, and abortion because they fear their speech will be anonymously reported as offensive, biased, and/or hateful to university authorities through the bias response system.

The lawsuit came as students continually complain about incidents of microaggressions and expression that offend them. It could have a nationwide impact since, as Independent Journal Review previously reported, colleges have established hundreds of “Bias Response Teams” in the United States.

In a statement, Speech First president Nicole Neily said that “a bias response system has no place in America, much less on a modern-day college campus.”

“Speech codes like Michigan’s flagrantly violate the First Amendment,” Neily also said. According to The Detroit News, a Michigan spokeswoman said she had no comment.

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