Thursday, October 15, 2020
While America’s colleges and universities should be embracing open discourse, the unfortunate reality is that free speech is frequently not welcome on campus. That’s something Rae’Lee Klein understands well.
In August, Klein—a journalism student at Arizona State University, and manager of the student radio station—shared a New York Post article on her personal Twitter account about the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The article discussed Blake’s history, including his criminal record, and in her tweet, Klein encouraged her followers to consider all the facts surrounding this horrific event.
Klein’s tweet was met with outrage from her classmates, who insisted that ASU remove her from her managing duties as the radio station. And unfortunately, the university did just that: Rather than promote the exchange of different points of view, Arizona State University removed Klein from her managing position. While Klein’s post was not inflammatory or designed in any way to disturb or impair university operations, she did share information that wasn’t popular with many of her fellow students or staff. But by punishing her, ASU not only violated Klein’s free speech rights, it also violated journalistic ethics—which “[s]upport the open and civil exchange of views, even views [journalists] find repugnant.”  In a situation where the university should remain neutral, it acted in a biased manner—Klein’s tweet even elicited personal criticism from the dean of the journalism school.