American Sociological Association

On Air: Sociologists Discuss Freedom of Speech on College Campuses

August 4, 2017

The fight over campus speech has a long history, but recent events suggest it is at least as vitriolic as ever. Headlines are illustrative of how volatile campuses can be with mass protests leading to cancellations of speeches by invited speakers and threats made against academics such as Johnny Williams, a sociology professor at Trinity College. What constitutes acceptable speech on campus? When does it become hate speech? What rights should and do professors, students, and invited speakers have? DC radio WPFW put those questions and more to sociologists Amy Binder, Laura Beth Nielsen, and David G. Embrick on August 3.

Laura Beth Nielsen is director of the legal studies program and professor of sociology at Northwestern University and research professor at the American Bar Foundation. She is the author of License to Harass: Law, Hierarchy, and Offensive Public Speech.

David G. Embrick is an Associate professor in the Sociology Department and African Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut. He specializes in modern racism and its impact.

Amy Binder is a professor of sociology at the University of California at San Diego. She is co-author of Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives (2013).

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