Recently, FAU was called the "worst place in the United States to attend college." It was called this by The Daily Caller. But, still.
The main reason the school was called this by The Daily Caller was because of the school's so-called "speech code" (more on that here) - specifically a line that the school "insist" that "everyone in the FAU community behave and speak to and about one another in ways that are not racist, religiously intolerant or otherwise degrading to others."
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (or, FIRE), gave FAU the lowest of its ratings, the dreaded "red light speech code rating," which in turn prompted the Daily Caller's article.
Even though FAU's goal was to get people talking respectfully and civilly, it was still trying to control peoples' speech. FAU's heart was in the right place, but FIRE said that the "speech code" kept students from open public debate, no matter how incendiary their comments might be.
But FAU just can't stop.
This week, the university announced the creation of a year-long program called the Agora Project that's basically a Get Out Of Jail The University Created In the First Place Card that encourages open discourse.
With the Agora Project, students will have a place on campus where they can speak out as freely as the constitution lets them and to, as the university puts it, "promote a campus culture of awareness and understanding for the practice of civility and civil discourse in an environment of free speech, academic freedom and open dialogue."
Agora, as the university points out, was the designated public space where citizens would gather to discuss matters of life, religion and politics in ancient times.
The agora was the vibrant center of the city, the FAU statement also says. A place where political issues of the day were debated, goods were marketed, scientific theories were exchanged, crowds were entertained by musicians or plays.
This coming from the university that had run-ins with "Owlcatraz" protesters, "Jesus Stomp Professor" picketers, and a tenured professor who spouts horrible conspiracy theories following national tragedies.
FAU so badly wants to not piss off any more people to save face, but administrators really need to stop trying to control what people say on campus. They will never succeed, and it's cringeworthy to see them keep trying. Maybe just running the university like, you know, a university, has been the solution all along.
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