April 5, 2022

THE RECENT OBERLIN RULING ISN’T GREAT FOR FREE SPEECH. It arguably holds the college responsible for the speech of its student government (see p. 18-21), which will likely incentivize colleges to do even more to control student speech. That said, this may well be a “hard cases make bad law” situation without a lot of precedential value. I mean, good luck convincing a jury that the college does NOT control student speech when administrators are saying stuff like this:

Another example was a text message sent by [Dean of Students Meredith] Raimondo after the student newspaper published a letter from a retired Oberlin professor, which expressed criticism of the college’s “handling of the Gibson matter.” Raimondo sent a text message to another administrator that stated, “F-him. I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”

It’s easy to see this going another way (with regard to student speech, at least) if Oberlin administrators had been privately saying things like “Man, this student senate resolution might get us in even more hassle with the Gibsons, but we can’t just take it down.”

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