Outrageous Free Speech Violations at the University of Oklahoma
It’s getting hard to keep up with the instances in which the administration of the University of Oklahoma (OU) have violated First Amendment guarantees of free speech and freedom of conscience. In 2015, two members of the SAE fraternity were summarily expelled without due process after a video was published showing them chanting racial epithets. Although their conduct may have been reprehensible, legal scholars such as Eugene Volokh noted, “racist speech is constitutionally protected.” Solely as a result of this incident, the Foundation for Equal Rights in Education (FIRE) in 2017 named OU as one of the ten worst colleges in the US for free speech. Greg Lukianoff, President of FIRE, singled out OU as the most intolerant of all institutions because its actions were taken as a signal by other universities that they could “toss freedom of speech and basic fairness out of the window.”
In 2018, the campus newspaper, the OU Daily, led a hysterical crusade against law professor Brian McCall for publishing conservative and Christian views in a book. Despite a complete lack of evidence of any bias or wrongdoing, the University of Oklahoma conducted a secret investigation of professor McCall that was predicated solely on the basis of his religious and social views. The investigation completely exonerated the professor. So what happened? Professor McCall was punished! He was pressured into resigning his position as associate dean for academic affairs. This culminated in a lawsuit that was settled on confidential terms in 2019.
Last November 16, FIRE disclosed that OU “Diversity Training,” a course of instruction mandatory for both students and faculty, requires participants “to affirm that their personal views align with those of the university, without providing avenues for expressing dissenting viewpoints.” Thus OU violated “freedom of conscience of its community members and, by compelling certain speech, violates the university’s obligations under the First Amendment.” When OU finally responded to FIRE the following May, they denied violating First Amendment rights and refused to forego the compulsory training. FIRE concluded that OU’s refusal suggested that “compelled speech is the point of the exercise.”
The preceding is far from a comprehensive list. And now, in a lawsuit filed last May 25, a former student at OU, Kylee McLaughlin, alleges that she was “bullied, harassed and discriminated against” and removed from the women’s volleyball team for having Christian and conservative viewpoints. First reported by the Oklahoman, within 24 hours the allegations made in this lawsuit were international news.
Of course, what we know at the present time are allegations. As I write, I’m not aware of any rebuttal by the University administration or by the volleyball coaches named in the lawsuit. Nevertheless, when Ms. McLaughlin alleges, for example, that she was forced to watch an indoctrination film titled “13th,” I find it difficult to believe that she’s fabricating this incident. Nor do I believe that her attorney, Stan Ward, a former legal counsel at OU, would take her case if he had not found her to be a
Article from LewRockwell