The Vassar YAL chapter recently hosted Cornell University Professor William A. Jacobson, who spoke about the advantages of free speech and the importance of the First Amendment, especially on college campuses. Professor Jacobson runs a blog/news site called Legal Insurrection, and he has spoken at Vassar before.
The lecture was sponsored by Students for Liberty and the Leadership Institute.
Jacobson’s lecture, An Examination of Hate Speech and Free Speech on College Campuses, was grounded in legal precedent. He mentioned how Vassar protects some constitutional rights, such as not forcibly searching rooms or seizing students’ property, and that Vassar should also protect students’ right to freedom of expression, even if some of these ideas are offensive or even hateful. He stated that the Supreme Court has reached the conclusion that hate speech is free time and time again, and that there are only very narrow exceptions to the First Amendment, including imminent threats, harassment, and libel.
Perhaps not so astonishingly, this event did not go on without controversy. However, the lecture was a huge success, with almost 300 people in attendance, our biggest audience yet. We’ve had new members show up because of this event, and we’re looking forward to future events.